Schumer Considering Historic Third Term at Helm of DSCC

I was pretty stoked back in November 2004 when incoming Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was able to cajole Chuck Schumer into keeping his eyes on the Senate and manning the helm of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. I was likewise pleased in November 2006 when it emerged that Schumer had agreed to stay on a second term at the committee, something done only once during the preceding 20-plus years. Now comes word from The Hill's Aaron Blake that Schumer is considering an historic third term as DSCC chairman.

In fact, things are going so well for Schumer that he won't even rule out doing it again for an unheard-of third term at the helm of the DSCC.

At the same time, he said he has "no desire" to be governor, even though he has weighed a run before and the seat is vacant in 2010 now that Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) has resigned.

"People don't believe this, but I don't plan ahead ... We'll just cross that bridge when we get to it," he said. "I would say one thing: It's hard when you are running for office. The traditional wisdom is you shouldn't be in the DSCC [when running]."

Schumer is up for reelection in 2010.

To this point, only Wendell Ford of Kentucky has served three terms at the head of the DSCC, so were Schumer to take on the responsibility one more time he would indeed tie the record for longest tenure as the committee's chairman.

Schumer's run thus far has been marked by successes. When Schumer took the position in the wake of John Kerry's loss -- and, more importantly, the Democrats' net loss of four Senate seats, yielding the lowest number of Senate Democrats since after the 1928 elections -- few believed that the Democrats had much of any shot of retaking the Senate in the November 2006 midterms. However, Schumer was able to capitalize on the political environment and wisely used his committee's resources to help find the six pick-ups necessary for the Democrats to retake the Senate.

This time around, we obviously do not know what the ends are going to be. However, to this point, the metrics look really great. As Blake notes in the article, the Democrats have fielded credible candidates in more than half of the 23 seats being defended by the Republicans, and the Democrats have serious shots at winning more than a half dozen races (including five that are already rated "toss-up" or even "likely Democrat"). What's more, the DSCC has better than a $16 million net advantage in cash-on-hand over its rival, the National Republican Senatorial Committee.  

Of course this isn't to say that the Democrats are bound to pick up half a dozen or more seats -- or even a smaller number -- this fall. And it would be in the interests of all parties for a decision about the chairmanship of the DSCC for the 2010 cycle to be made. That said, as far as things look right now, I wouldn't have too much of a problem seeing Schumer at the helm of the DSCC one more time.

For more, check out the MyDD interview with Chuck Schumer from February 2007.

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Rattling the Wavering in NY?

An interesting little titbit from the NY Daily News political blog:

The Queens Democrat and superdelegate, Rep. Gregory Meeks, who remains solidly in Hillary Clinton's corner despite the fact that Barack Obama won his district, was the target of a mysterious flyer circulated at the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators' 37th annual conference in Albany this weekend.

"Now that you won't be part of the White House, and we know you like taking trips, we guess you'll be going to Disneyland," read the unadorned black-and-white flyer, signed by "people united for quality representation in government."

The "taking trips" gibe referred to the fact that Meeks made a top 10 list for privately funded congressional travel in 2006.

Meeks' nameless critics urged "someone" to "please step up" against him, singling out state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Queens) and Democratic City Councilmen Leroy Comrie and James Sanders of Queens - none of whom have so far expressed an interest in mounting a primary challenge.

Meeks, who has been touted as a potential replacement for Clinton in the U.S. Senate should she win the White House, accused his nameless critics of cowardice.

Elizabeth Benjamin - Hillary's New York superdelegates are feeling the heat

Given Donna Edwards' recent victory this probably has a little more bite than it otherwise would, and I certainly don't condone the 'anonymous' nature of this initiative, which in any other election cycle would probably go unreported, but one wonders if there is more to come.  Thoughts?  Representative Meeks must have a few dark ones about his senatorial prospects, in any case.

And Meeks is not alone, so it seems:

Meeks isn't the only Clinton superdelegate from New York on the hot seat. Brooklyn Reps. Yvette Clarke and Edolphus Towns, whose African-American-dominated districts were also carried by Obama, are under similar pressure to switch sides, said state Sen. Bill Perkins, an early Obama supporter from Harlem.

So far, both Clarke and Towns are sticking with Clinton.

But the pressure on them could grow, particularly if the reported undercount in the preliminary Feb. 5 primary results turns out to have skewed the results in Clinton's favor.

Elizabeth Benjamin - Hillary's New York superdelegates are feeling the heat NY Daily News 18 Feb 08

And just on the subject of a superdelegate fight, NY Senator Schumer seems to be hedging his bets just a wee bit.

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Ky Senate 08: Greg Stumbo Should Not be Forgotten

Yesterday posts appeared on Kos and MyDD telling of the disasterous new numbers that have been polled for Mitch McConnell recently. While these numbers were music to my ears, I noticed that only one link to one potential challenger of Mitch McConnell, Crit Luallen was linked in the story.

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ME-Sen: Tom Allen Down, But Certainly Not Out

Markos today released polling out of the Maine Senate race he commissioned from non-partisan pollster Research 2000, and the numbers don't look terribly good at this point for Democratic Congressman Tom Allen.

If the 2008 election for U.S. Senate were held today, would you to reelect Susan Collins, would you consider voting for another candidate, or would you vote to replace Collins?

Reelect 55
Consider 20
Replace 21

If 2008 election for U.S. Senate were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Tom Allen, the Democrat, and Susan Collins, the Republican?

Collins (R) 56
Allen (D) 33

I don't think that anyone would argue that this is where they'd like to see Allen at this point in the race. Indeed, these numbers indicate a need for a significant change in the dynamics of this race before it's going to be among the top pick-up opportunities for the Democrats.

That said, stranger things have occurred in the past in politics. No one, and I mean no one, believed that George Allen was defeatable at this point in the 2006 cycle, nor did anyone at this point in the 2004 cycle foresee Jim Bunning winning reelection by only about a point against Dan Mongiardo -- and those two races occurred in significantly redder states than Maine.

And going back into the polling vault, one can find at least one relatively recent race in which a Democratic challenger polling in the low 30s even closer to election day was able to pull out a victory. Luckily for Allen, that Democratic challenger -- Chuck Schumer -- is now in a position to aid Allen's campaign.

Back in 1998 Schumer, then a Congressman, faced off against Senator Al D'Amato, a Republican with a history of being able to win in the very Democratic state of New York (not unlike Collins' ability to win in the very Democratic state of Maine). Polling conducted in November 1997 by Zogby (yeah, I know I just bashed Zogby earlier today, but at least this was a telephone rather than an internet poll) showed D'Amato leading Schumer in a hypothetical matchup 41 percent to 30 percent. By February 1998, Zogby pegged D'Amato's lead over Schumer at 47 percent to 24 percent, a poll conducted by Zogby in June 1998 put D'Amato up 51 percent to 28 percent, and in August 1998 D'Amato led Schumer 48 percent to 30 percent. For those looking for corroboration from other pollsters, Mason-Dixon/PMR survey from June 1998 showed D'Amato up 47 percent to 29 percent over Schumer, and an Emerson College/Suffolk University survey from March 1998 put D'Amato's lead at 39 percent to 29 percent.

In the end, despite trailing D'Amato for much of the race, Schumer won quite handily, 55 percent to 44 percent. While it's true that Schumer's victory isn't necessarily the best template for Allen to follow -- D'Amato's reelect and approval numbers were never nearly as high as those of Collins, for instance, and Maine is certainly not New York -- Schumer's ability to come back from a seemingly overwhelming and enduring deficit should give hope to Allen -- particularly given Schumer's ability to play a role in the race as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. If you, too, are interested in getting involved in Allen's campaign, check out the interview we conducted with him here on MyDD and head over to his campaign website.

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A New Democratic Confidence

One of the most fascinating things about how technology changes politics is in how it shapes internal culture.  The letter on behalf of Reid and against Broder is a good example.  When Broder wrote his column, he immediately found massive resistance from Talkingpointsmemo, Atrios, Kos, FDL, etc and readers of the Washington Post.  If you printed it out, his column had 46 pages of comments, most of them negative and outraged at Broder's comparison of Gonzales and Reid.  The letter originated from Schumer's office, and it happened because bloggers and Democrats reacted so vociferously to Broder.  The confidence boost to insiders is immeasurable.  Not only did fellow Senators feel confident enough to back Reid, but staffers internally worried about whether they are doing the right thing when faced by criticism from someone like Broder are being told that it's ok to ignore him.  And then Broder becomes less relevant because of the internal cultural changes that internet activism has engendered within the party.  It empowers progressives and partisans, and disempowers televised elites, Republican or otherwise.  This is going to happen one day soon to Tim Russert, as more evidence comes out that he is just an unethical embarrassment.

It's unbelievable that 50 Senators were corralled in a few days to respond to a media outlet they formerly respected, and basically call Broder a liar.  The legacy of triangulating against your own party to appear strong, at least within the Democratic Party, is over.

In the 1970s, new technology changed the culture of politics within both parties and the media to empower a different set of actors.  It created incentives for antipartisan behavior, for triangulation, and for appeasement to business coalitions.  Within those coalitions themselves, it enabled the most paranoid and unethical to seize power and change the internal culture of American business entirely towards greed and power.  On the left, the antipartisan behavior, most epitomized by Nader in 2000, was the norm.

Anyway, it's just interesting to note that new confidence and newly partisan behavior has firmly penetrated the Senate.  And Democrats now know that being strong on Iraq is a winning strategy.  For thirty years, Democrats have been taught not to fight, and activists have been taught to not respect party structures and work outside them.  Both of those trends are in full reverse, and while we won't see the full effects of this trend for twenty years, this is a very promising development.  One major party candidate now feels confident enough to argue that there is no Global War on Terror, which is a big departure from the triangulating model of politics and an embrace of George Soros's controversial and important argument.  And Edwards is doing this because he thinks it's a winning strategy.  Even his critics should be emboldened by his choice - if you think he's pandering, it's kind of neat that there is an incentive to pander in this direction.

Anyway, we should note these little moments that are suggesting very different behavior.  The policy world is not penetrated by this model, but it will be eventually as the open left gets more sophisticated and broader.  And in 2009, a fair number of innovators are thinking about how government will change based on these new trends.  The effect of technological innovation and new organizing models on internal culture is often small at first, but it can be enormously impactful over time.

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