Facing a party in turmoil, with moderates and progressives battling to sway its direction after a devastating election, incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer decided to try to make everyone happy.
The newly-elected top Senate Democrat navigated a potentially messy fight between two party leaders and expanded his team to include disparate voices from the liberal Bernie Sanders to the moderate Joe Manchin. It’s not a move without risk for the New York senator.
His leadership team now numbers 10 senators, a potentially unwieldy group that encompasses more than a fifth of a 48-member caucus poised to be the spear of opposition to President-elect Donald Trump. Schumer’s moves to diversify the leadsership ranks comes on the heels of Trump’s success among blue-collar voters and as liberals try to keep pushing the party to the left.
“We’ll unite our caucus and speak to the blue collar worker in West Virginia and Michigan as well as the people who live along the coasts,” Schumer said after a remarkably quick leadership meeting, which featured no contested races. “We can unite the disparate factions of our party and country. Our whole leadership team is emblematic of that. Our team is ideologically and geographically diverse.”
Schumer headed off a showdown between Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for the No. 2 whip job, which Durbin will keep. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) typically invited Durbin, Murray and Schumer to crucial decision-making meetings, but those “Big Four” sessions won’t apparently continue under Schumer.