Greg Sargent with some background on how the maneuvering to replace Harry Reid as minority (or majority) leader is likely to shake out:
This debate is already underway: Two liberal groups are now floating the idea of a Warren run for the post of Democratic Senate leader.
Judging by the Twitters, most political observers have already decided that the two major contenders for the post will be Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, with Schumer seen as the heavy favorite. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean the liberal wing of the party will quietly acquiesce without trying to put its stamp on the outcome.
“If Elizabeth Warren doesn’t run for president, she should definitely run for leader of the Senate,” Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Howard Dean’s Democracy for America, tells me. “The election for Senate leader is not going to be a slam dunk for any early front-runner, especially someone like Senator Schumer. He’s closer to Wall Street while the Wall Street wing of the party is dying and the Elizabeth Warren wing is rising. It only makes sense that the next leader of the U.S. Senate is either from that wing or deeply understands how to work with that wing.”
“There will likely not be a coronation to replace Harry Reid, and Elizabeth Warren is right up there with others as someone who would be taken very seriously,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee tells me in a statement. “Warren’s lifetime of fighting for the little guy against Wall Street power — including her upset victory on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — shows she can think big, wage tough fights against powerful interests, and win key votes in the Senate. She’s the definition of a leader, and that’s why her colleagues and millions of Americans respect her and are inspired by her rise.”
The point here is not that Warren will run, or that the left will necessarily be able to install their chosen candidate at the top of the Dem Senate leadership. Rather, it’s that the left will use this occasion to try to pull the debate at the center of the battle to succeed Reid to the left on a range of issues.
For instance, liberal groups note that late last night, 42 Democratic Senators voted for an amendment to expand Social Security, a priority of liberal groups that was once considered laughably far outside the mainstream. The influence of Warren, who made a big splash by endorsing expanding Social Security, probably played a key role in corralling that vote. While Schumer voted for the amendment, too, the question will be which Senators are truly willing to fight for this priority.