WASHINGTON — Senator Michael Bennet has been chosen as the incoming chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2014 election cycle, according to the online publication Politico.
Bennet’s main job will be to raise money for Democratic senatorial candidates and help them win their elections. His task is expected to be more difficult than usual because of the unusual political winds likely to blow in the face of his colleagues.
Twenty Democrats are up for re-election compared to 13 Republicans; several of those Democrats represent conservative red states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia; and in 1986, 1998, and 2006, the party in control of the White House lost Senate seats in the president’s sixth year in office.
“This will not be an easy job, but I feel strongly that families and small businesses in my state have a lot riding on our success,” Bennet said in a statment.
Bennet has the confidence of Democratic Party leaders. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada tapped him for the high-profile position after serving less than four years in elected office.
Bennet was appointed to fill the seat of Ken Salazar after Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in 2008. He won his election campaign two years later.
Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party from 2007 to 2011, said he is “sure that Bennet will do a good job. He has got Guy Cecil as his right-hand man (as the DSCC executive director), the same guy who ran his 2010 senate campaign.”
Bennet, a 48-year-old former head of the Denver Public Schools, succeeds Sen. Patty Murray of Washington as the DSCC Chairman. He had been rumored to take the post for weeks, but declined to announce that he had accepted it until Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol.
Yet Bennet’s new job might be a mixed bag.
On the one hand, Bennet will be able to expand his poll of Democratic donors as he attends party fundraisers around the country. This access is likely to help his own re-election in 2016, Wadhams said. On the other, Bennet’s new position as a key leader of the Democratic Party’s campaign apparatus could open him up to criticism that he is too partisan — a potentially liability in a swing state like Colorado.
“He is seen as a bipartisan Senator who is working with Sen. (Lamar) Alexander of Tennessee on this budget crisis, but taking this job as DSCC Chairman is starkly contrary to that. This is a nakedly partisan job. Its sole job is to elect Democrats and defeat Republicans,” Wadhams said.