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Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairmanship still undecided

Washington State Sen. Patty Murray deflected questions about whether she will be the next head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as the search to fill the position seemed certain to extend beyond today.

Asked Tuesday whether she has been approached about chairing the committee, Murray declined to answer. "I'm going to let Harry Reid talk today," Murray said. "I'm not going to talk about it."

Murray helmed the committee during the 2002 cycle and earlier this month won re-election to a fourth term after a rough-and-tumble race against former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R).

Several other Democrats who attended the closed-door leadership elections said that no names of potential DSCC chairmen were discussed at the meeting at all. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said that the process of finding a chairman is "a work in progress."

But asked about who will lead the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) responded, "Well, it's Bennet." Asked if that meant Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet had accepted the chairmanship, Feinstein answered, "Yes."

Feinstein said that she thought Bennet would be "just fine" as DSCC chairman, adding, "the proof is in the fundraising."

A source close to Bennet said that the senator said last week that he's not interested in the chairmanship and that's still the case.

The job has proven difficult to fill given the tough numbers facing Democrats in the 2012 cycle. Twenty one Democratic Senators are up for reelection as are two independents who caucus with Democrats. Just ten Republican incumbents are up in 2012.

While the DSCC chairmanship remained vacant, Senate Democrats did reelect the leadership team today and elevated freshman lawmaker Mark Begich of Alaska to a more prominent role, a concession to junior senators who have pressed for greater influence in Senate decision making.

Begich will chair the steering and policy committee and said he would bring a more conservative perspective to a leadership team that otherwise skews to the left. The former Anchorage mayor said he would seek out constituencies beyond the traditional groups that influence Democratic priorities, including from the business world.

"It doesn't matter whether they like us or not, I'm going to go out and talk to them," Begich said. "I'm much more moderate than the overall leadership team. They know I'm pretty direct. I'm not your normal Democratic. It's a different viewpoint that's going to be in that group now, and it's going to be very helpful."

With Shailagh Murray

By Felicia Sonmez  | November 16, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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