Politico took a close look today at the Democratic leadership team assembled by Sen. Chuck Schumer, which will include a core group of 10 senators from within the 48-member minority caucus, a much larger group than what the previous Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, used.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a member of the team, described Schumer’s approach as a “big tent” and said he wants to hear divergent points-of-view.
That’s good news for senators whose interests lie outside the Democratic mainstream, such as Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia. His red-state constituents expect him to work with the GOP on subjects like abortion or gun rights, and he also has particular regional interests, recently fighting with Reid over worker benefits for coal miners. Such fights will be less likely with Schumer.
At the same time, Schumer’s team will include the two most prominent progressive voices from within the party, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Warren will continue on as strategic policy adviser, a post she has held since 2014, and Sanders will be the “chairman of outreach,” perhaps a nod to Sanders’ ease with young voters during the 2016 Democratic primary. He says that success for Senate Democrats will only come once they “start representing all Americans and not just the 1 percent.”
It’s not clear yet how such voices will coalesce with more conservative senators, like Manchin or even Schumer himself.
Still, senators like Stabenow are optimistic.
“2018 is really the opportunity for Senate Democrats to really be the loudest voice in terms of who we fight for every day,” Stabenow told Politico.
But a brighter spotlight makes for greater scrutiny, and 2018 carries many risks for Schumer’s team, especially for Stabenow. She is one of 10 senators up for re-election, many from states, like Stabenow’s Michigan, that voted for Trump in November. That will be the ultimate test of Schumer’s leadership.