For a while there, it was beginning to look like DSCC had bed bugs. Bob Menendez, facing his own 2012 re-election (not to mention a Tea Party who wants his hide) is ready to step down from his 2-year stint as the Dems’ campaign chief for the Senate.
Harry Reid offered the job to Washington State’s Patty Murray (who turned it down). So did Virginia’s Mark Warner, and Colorado’s Michael Bennet. NY’s Chuck Schumer (who ran DSCC from 2005-09) took himself out of the running. But Murray changed her mind; it was announced today she’ll chair DSCC. Big job. This cycle, 21 Dem incumbents are up, and both independents who caucus with the Dems, Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman (one worth saving, one not). Only 9 Republicans are up for re-election.
One of Murray’s top priorities will be making sure her predecessor Bob Menendez makes it through his “first” re-election to the Senate. Menendez was appointed by Gov. Corzine to fill his own Senate seat when Corzine became governor. He took office in January, 2006, and defeated Tom Kean, Jr. later that same year to keep his seat. But this is the first time Menendez has a longer Senate record to run against. As the man who presided over Dems keeping control of the Senate, he’s got a big, red GOP target on his back. Then there’s the Tea Party people, enraged by a Latino with power, and vowing to take their (ridiculous) constitution-bending case to recall him all the way to the Supreme Court. Unlikely, that they’ll get there. Unknown, the effect of 2 years of their ignorant, racially-motivated bashing.
Between then and now, a year of redistricting and legislative races. A year of most Democrats focusing more on the state’s troubles and its overblown helium balloon of a governor. Menendez will ramp up same time Obama will; in the Garden State, their fortunes loosely tied. It’s early yet, but Menendez may have some work to do.
Patty Murray clocks in at 91% on Progressive Punch’s scorecard for Senators, just one slot off the top 25 (Score! Menendez rates higher). She’s been a key party player for a while, as Senate Conference secretary, the #4 position in Democratic leadership.
And, if it isn’t fresh in your mind, Murray just came off her own re-election nail-biter, victorious only after a 3-day vote count. Menendez helped her get re-elected. We’ll see in two years if her efforts for him pay off.