Are We Going Steady, Chuck?
Senator Chuck Schumer (D–NY) is hardly a fresh face to the Senate, having served as a New York senator since 1998 and as a member of the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1999. However, Senator Schumer will be adopting a new role as the Senate Democratic Minority Leader upon Senator Harry Reid’s (D– NV) retirement in 2016.
By ascending to the position of leader of the Senate minority, Senator Schumer is leap frogging Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL), the current minority whip and No. 2 in the caucus leadership. Regardless of the reported infighting between the two, the senior New York senator should have little issue rising to the top. Charismatic and popular both inside and outside the Beltway, Senator Schumer has certainly spent enough time in the public eye to be considered a practiced hand when it comes to gathering support and maintaining connections within the party.
The bloodless succession, engineered by Senator Reid before his announced retirement, is the opening shot in what is sure to be an interesting series of elections in 2016. The Republican Party has been nothing if not turbulent and fractious these past few years, and this next election cycle doesn’t seem to be any different. With 24 Republican Senate seats up for reelection, many of which will be in states that President Obama won in 2012, the Democrats will have an easier time competing in this cycle than they did in the last. The Democratic presidential primary, which many observers continue to see as one that will be relatively calm and predictable, will keep Democrats out of the fray that many Republican senators – Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) – will find themselves immersed in.
Indeed, from now until November 2016, Republicans will find themselves in a hotly contested primary that will make the contentiousness of the 2012 primary season look tame by comparison. This time, the Republicans will have a truly deep-bench of highly qualified and politically savvy candidates that will gladly do battle with each other. That is why the stability of the Democratic party – and Senator Schumer’s new job – can be seen as an advantage in a time when many Americans are looking for a reliable, productive government. This analyst would argue that while being the “change” party in 2008 worked well for the Democrats, it would be in their best interest to ride the Schumer-Clinton wave of predictability, especially as more and more far-right and pugilistic Republicans announce their presidential campaigns. While this stability is arguably the result of back-dealings and Beltway relationships, (which turn off the typical voter), the result is a party that will be lead by familiar faces that espouse the center-left ideology that Americans have been drawn to for years. Ironically, the party of progressivism will be lead by faces from the past – and that may not be as bad as it sounds.
- Alaina Haworth