- Harry Reid and his top lieutenant Dick Durbin have endorsed Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to succeed Reid as Senate Democratic Leader, the Washington Post's Paul Kane reports.
- The endorsement is significant because because Durbin was, technically, next in line for leadership. Now, though, it's clear he has decided against making a bid.
- "I think you've earned this," Durbin told Schumer, according to Kane.
It looks like Schumer has things in the bag
Though Senate Democrats technically won't choose Reid's replacement until after the November 2016 elections, this is an early move to consolidate support around Schumer and prevent a potential divisive contest within the party.
Back in 2010, when many expected Reid to lose reelection, intrigue between Durbin and Schumer about who would succeed Reid was the talk of DC for months. (Weirdly enough, Durbin and Schumer were housemates at the time, and had been for decades.)
But Schumer has taken increasingly prominent roles in the Democratic caucus since then, consolidating what already looked like an advantage. Durbin's early endorsement of Schumer is a concession to what's long been the conventional wisdom in Washington: that Schumer had the votes locked up.
Last November, Politico's Manu Raju and John Bresnahan wrote that Schumer succeeding Reid looked like "a certainty" for much of the year, with Schumer winning particular support among moderate Democrats. They argued that his main (though still small) potential threat would be from the party's liberal wing — not from Durbin, but perhaps from Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), or Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Indeed, some liberals are already arguing today that Warren or an outsider, rather than Schumer, should succeed Reid. Schumer is viewed as close to Wall Street and the party's business wing, and he's been a longtime congressional insider, first elected to the House in 1980 and to the Senate in 1998.
But Warren has already said she won't run, and Raju and Everett report that Patty Murray may make a bid for the number two spot, alongside Schumer. Durbin has told Kane, though, that he intends to run for whip again. Matt Yglesias has more on the implications of who succeeds Reid here.