Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s decision to retire has “prompted a surprising and divisive fight among two of the top Senate Democratic leaders and is raising doubts as to whether one of them, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, will be able to retain his leadership post.” CNN,
The dispute between Durbin and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is centered on whether the two men agreed to endorse each other for their leadership positions in the next Congress -— that begins in two years — after Reid retires.
The conflict comes after Reid had promised an orderly transition. It has the potential to fracture the Democratic caucus between senators loyal to one man or the other, at a time when Democrats desperately need unity in their legislative and political battles with the Republicans who control the chamber for the first time in eight years.
Durbin is currently Reid’s No. 2, and he wants to keep that job. Schumer is currently Reid’s No.3, but ihe s poised to leap-frog Durbin to take over the top job in January 2017. That’s because Reid, who is very influential with the Democratic senators, endorsed Schumer over Durbin immediately after he announced last Friday that he would not run for re-election.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, currently the No. 4 elected Democratic leader, is widely expected to move up at least to the No. 3 job. But as the fisticuffs between Durbin and Schumer spill into public view, she is quietly waiting in the wings to see if there will be an opening for her to move even higher.