Harry Reid (left) and Elizabeth Warren are pictured. | AP Photo
By Manu Raju and John Bresnahan
11/12/14 8:11 PM EST
Senate Democrats want to enlist a progressive firebrand as a member of their leadership: Elizabeth Warren.
The incoming Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, is engaged in private talks with the Massachusetts freshman to create a special leadership post for the former Harvard professor, according to several people familiar with the matter. It’s unclear exactly what the new job would entail — but luring the populist liberal into leadership could inject fresh blood into a team reeling from significant midterm election losses.
Adding Warren, Democrats say, would bring in a nationally known name who could help sharpen the Democratic message as it goes toe-to-toe with the new Senate Republican majority. The move would likely be viewed favorably by an increasingly liberal caucus.
But elevating Warren could also be seen as an indication that the new Senate Democratic minority is less interested in bipartisan compromises than the White House or Senate Republicans.
The position may be unveiled at a closed-door Senate Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. At that meeting, Reid — along with his chief deputies, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington state — are all expected to be elected, respectively, to the top four posts in the new Democratic minority. Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a second-term Democrat, is expected to be named chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sources say.
Reid, however, could face some ‘no’ votes from Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who won’t say whether they will back Reid and have been critical of his hard-nosed leadership style. Other Democrats, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, both declined to endorse Reid in separate interviews on Wednesday.
“I’m open to change,” Manchin said.
But Reid, who has been Democratic leader since 2005, still has overwhelming support within his caucus, which will likely have 46 members in the next Congress. Many of them benefited from his aggressive fundraising during their campaigns in recent years, and he has awarded a number of Democrats with key committee positions over the years. No Democrat is expected to challenge him for the post.
Still, opening up the lame-duck session of Congress Wednesday, Reid said his goal was not to obstruct the new majority.
Citing his time as minority leader under President George W. Bush, Reid said, “I have been able to strike compromise with my Republican colleagues, and I’m ready to do it again.”