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Democrats play hot potato with DSCC chairmanship

The Democratic and Republican leadership elections are finally upon us, and it seems that most of the drama and uncertainty has already worked itself out well in advance. On the GOP side, the only contested race — which featured Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) facing off against Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) for House Republican Conference Chair — soon fizzled rather amiably when it became clear that Hensarling would win and Bachmann quietly withdrew. And for Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (Calif.) compromise last Friday night to nominate Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.) for the third-ranking position — which she termed “assistant leader” — seems to have avoided a hard fight between Clyburn and Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) for the second-ranking position of minority whip.

The only job that remains up in the air for Democrats — chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) — is a result of the fact that no one seems to want to take it. The position, which is appointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has reportedly been turned down already by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and it’s unclear who will step up to fill the important shoes of going toe-to-toe with National Republican Senatorial Committee leader Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in the battle for the Senate in 2012.

The reason, it seems, is that the position, typically a launching pad to the upper echelons of Democratic leadership, is looking more and more like a sand trap when it comes to 2012. In two years, 21 Democratic senators — along with two independents who caucus with the Democrats — will come up for re-election, compared to only 10 Republicans. Even with President Obama on the ticket, those numbers make the odds of notching a winning record nearly nil, while the potential for a drubbing is much greater.

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