Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) caused a political earthquake on Friday by announcing he won’t seek reelection in 2016, opening up the coveted perch of Democratic leader that he has held since 2005.
Before the jockeying could begin to succeed the mild-mannered political brawler as the chief caucus leader, Reid endorsed New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat, within hours of his announcement.
“I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,” Reid told the Washington Post, predicting that Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, would stand down. Reid said he spoke to Durbin by phone before the interview.
Indeed, it turns out Durbin is also supporting Schumer and won’t seek the top spot.
“Senator Durbin told Senator Schumer late last night that he wasn’t running for Leader, and that Schumer has his support,” a Durbin spokesman told TPM. “Durbin intends to run again for Whip and has Senator Reid’s support. He’s been speaking with senators this morning.”
Schumer would have been the clear favorite to win a race, multiple Democratic sources said.
“Schumer is clearly the frontrunner,” said one Democratic Senate aide, who is unaffiliated with each of the three senators. “He’s just positioned himself that way both publicly and privately. He’s worked very hard to earn the loyalty of the caucus, certainly in a way that Durbin just hasn’t. He tries to engage directly and be a resource and an asset to individual members, to stick up for them and fight for them in leadership meetings.”