When Senator Harry Reid announced he would retire next year, he also endorsed Senator Chuck Schumer as his replacement as Democratic leader of the Senate. Schumer’s chief rival, Senator Dick Durbin, also endorsed the New York senator.
This is one of the least surprising developments in recent political history, as Schumer has been described as Reid’s replacement for more than half of his Senate career. He always denied that he was thinking about such things, but everyone assumed anyway.
The probable coronation won’t happen for another year and a half, and there’s still plenty of ways the prophecy could be proven wrong, but for once, it looks like American politics is going to follow the script printed out for it in advance.
Indeed, for Schumer, the Alito hearings marked yet another step in his improbable political ascent: from New York’s favorite schlepper senator to national Democratic macher … “Chuck thinks that he can be the Senate Democratic leader some day — that’s what he’s aiming for,” says a senior party operative.
A prediction: If Hillary Clinton isn’t the next President, she or Chuck Schumer will be the next majority leader, assuming Reid’s stewardship doesn’t hand the Senate back to the Republicans.
As Cook Political Report analyst Jennifer Duffy put it, “I don’t see him as somebody who aspires to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — I think he is the ultimate legislator and he aspires to majority leader. I think his ambitions do not have to be realized tomorrow, and he has invested a lot of time in them, so he lets things work themselves out.” Asked if he had any plans to serve as majority leader down the road, Mr. Schumer said, “I’m not even going to speculate.
There are, of course, ways to leave a profound Senate legacy without holding the office of majority leader. Mr. Schumer’s model Jacob Javits never did; neither did Ted Kennedy. Yet no one who knows him doubts that the hypothetical has crossed his mind.
Harry Reid, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, is facing a challenging race for a fifth term in Nevada, potentially opening the door for Schumer to replace him. But, in keeping with senatorial tradition, Schumer must not acknowledge the possibility that the job of leader will become vacant or that he has any interest in filling it.
So, what would a Schumer-led Senate look like? Cosmetically, at least, it would function much more smoothly than under Reid. “Reid is a master of the inside game, but he’s a disaster media-wise,” says a former Schumer aide. “Chuck’s a master of the outside game. He’s a skilled media guy. Who do I want on ‘Meet the Press’? Chuck.”
Now, with confidant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) hanging on to his seat by a thread, the Brooklynite is nearing the goal line of his long game. … Schumer declined to be interviewed for this article and betrays an uncharacteristic loss for words whenever the term “majority leader” is uttered.
For Mr. Schumer, it would be bittersweet to seek Mr. Reid’s post. People close to both men say that Mr. Schumer considers Mr. Reid a close friend and attributes much of his success in the Senate to him.
Looming in the distance is a potential leadership showdown between Schumer and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., whenever current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., decides to retire.
Everyone presumes that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the media-hungry Democrat from New York, wants to be the next Senate majority leader.
Durbin and Schumer are, respectively, the second- and third-ranking Democrats in the Senate, and each would like Reid’s job when he steps down. … Durbin conceals his ambition more artfully than Schumer does.
Reid’s departure would leave a major power vacuum among Senate Democrats, one most likely filled by Schumer, the powerful Rules Committee chairman who has aggressively, if patiently, pursued the Democratic leadership post for years.
Chuck Schumer has been many things: an aggressive partisan who led his party to a Senate majority; an unapologetic media hound who loves the camera; a denizen of the rat-infested Capitol Hill group house that inspired an upcoming Amazon streaming TV series; and a brash contender to one day become Senate majority leader.
He went on to ask Pryor who would be the best option to succeed Reid as majority leader. Pryor suggested Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), saying he “does a pretty darn good job there in the Senate, and he’s actually, he’s not this crazy wild-eyed, left wing liberal either.”
So it was a significant moment on Tuesday morning when Schumer, New York’s senior senator and a likely heir to Reid, called for Democrats to “embrace government” as they try to hold the White House and recapture control of Congress in 2016.