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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/19/2010

White House, Harry Reid court Patty Murray for DSCC chair

By Chris Cillizza

1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and other senior Democratic senators are courting Washington Sen. Patty Murray to take the chairmanship of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and she huddled with White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina on Thursday to discuss the possibility, according to a senior Democratic source.

It's not clear whether Murray is inclined to sign on as DSCC chair, but she appears to be under a full-court press from Reid and the White House to do so. Murray was reelected to a fourth term on Nov. 2, defeating former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R) in a race heavily targeted by both parties. Murray chaired the DSCC during the 2002 cycle.

Reid's behind-the-scenes maneuvering stands in stark contrast to his public statements about filling the DSCC chairmanship.

On Thursday, Reid said he was in "no rush" to name a new chair and that a decision likely wouldn't be announced until the week after Christmas.

"We've had a lot of progress," Reid said at a press conference. "We're in no rush to do that."

Reid previously offered the job to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, but he decided against taking on the campaign gig.

The DSCC chairmanship could be a very tough job in the 2012 cycle. The majority party is defending 21 seats with Republicans defending just 10. Two independents who caucus with Democrats are also up.

2. Democrats gained in two unresolved House races in New York on Thursday, as absentee ballots improved their standing.

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) picked up more than 500 votes on Republican Ann Marie Buerkle after a little more than half the absentee ballots had been counted in Onondaga County, according to Maffei's campaign.

Maffei's campaign says he now trails by 303 votes, which would be a good place for the incumbent. But Republicans remain confident, contending that the first ballots counted in Onondaga were from its more Democratic areas. They also note that Maffei's campaign is objecting to more ballots, temporarily inflating his gains. Buerkle is also counting on significant improvement in her vote totals when 1,200 absentee ballots are counted in Wayne County at a later date.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, has gained more than 100 votes and reduced Republican Randy Altschuler's lead to 272 votes, according to Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider. The absentee ballots counted so far have come from Bishop's base of Southampton and Altschuler's base of Smithtown.

The two New York races are among six that remain undecided in the House. The others are the reelection bids of Reps. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.), Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.).

Democrats hold wide leads in the California contests while Republicans are likely to win in North Carolina and Texas once recounts are held.

3. Both Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said at this week's Republican Governors Association annual meeting that they will wait for the spring to announce whether they will run for president.

Daniels said his announcement will come after a state legislative session in which several major reforms are on the docket. "That takes you into April," he said, suggesting it would come after then.

Barbour also cited his day job, noting that his legislative session would conclude in April or May. He suggested there are benefits to starting late. "The later you start, the less money you'll spend," Barbour said.

No major candidate has yet announced his or her intention to run for the Republican nomination.

4. Former Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen is considering a 2012 bid for his old seat, according to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

In an interview with Hotline's "On Call" blog, McDonnell said that Allen "wants to serve again" and will likely run against Sen. Jim Webb (D).

"It would not surprise me at all to see him back in the hunt here," McDonnell said of Allen, who lost narrowly to Webb in 2006.

At a book-signing event in Fredericksburg last week, Allen said that "a lot of folks" have encouraged him to run and that he and his wife are "analyzing all that."

Allen is slated to make an appearance this weekend at the Virginia Republican Party's annual Republican Advance meeting in McLean.

5. If it's Friday, it's time for the "Live Fix" chat.

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With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | November 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: North Carolina, Indiana host marquee governors races in 2012

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