DemDaily: Faces of the Senate. The New Leadership

November 20, 2018

While House lawmakers await the outcome of their leadership elections next week, Senate Democrats re-elected their party leadership by acclamation during a closed-door caucus meeting last Wednesday.

In contrast to the House, it has been 24 years since Senate Democrats had a contested election. The last pitted Chris Dodd (CT) against Tom Daschle (SD), with Daschle triumphing by one vote.

These leaders serve as the chief spokespeople in the US Senate for their political party, and manage and schedule the policy, legislative and executive business of their caucus.

Senate Minority Leader
Senator Chuck Schumer (New York)
Schumer, 68, has served as Minority Leader since 2017, succeeded retiring Senator Harry Reid.  He was elected to the Senate in 1998, after serving in the US House of Representatives, from Brooklyn, for 18 years.

Senate Democratic Leadership (LtoR): Joe Manchin (WV), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Mark Warner (VA), Patty Murray (WA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Chuck Schumer (NY), Bernie Sanders (VT), Dick Durbin (IL), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Amy Klobuchar (MN)

Senate Minority Whip

Senator Dick Durbin (Illinois)
Durbin, who turns 75 tomorrow, has served in the number two role in the caucus since 2005. He was elected to the Senate in 1996 andpreviously represented Springfield, Illinois in the US House for eight terms.

Assistant Democratic Leader
Senator Patty Murray (Washington)
Washington State's first female US Senator, the "mom in tennis shoes," 68, was first elected in 1992 after six years in the State Senate.

Going into her second term as Assistant Minority Leader, she is the highest-ranking woman in the US Senate.

Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chair
Senator Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)
The first female US Senator from Michigan, Stabenow, 68, previously represented the 8th congressional district for two terms.

Klobuchar and Warren: both potential presidential candidates

Conference Vice Chair
Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)
A former Harvard law professor and author, Warren, 69, unseated Republican incumbent Scott Brown (R) in 2012 to become Massachusetts' first female US Senator.

Conference Vice Chair
Senator Mark Warner (Virginia)
A former telecom venture capitalist, Warner, 63, served as Virginia's 69th before being elected to the Senate in 2008.

Steering Committee Chair
Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Klobuchar, 58, was elected Minnesota's first female US Senator in 2006. A member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, she was previously Hennepin County Attorney.

Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Hispanic female US Senator, will Chair the DSCC

Outreach Chair
Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)
The longest-serving Independent in congressional history, Sanders, 77, was elected to the Senate in 2006 after serving 8 terms in the US House. Although an independent, he caucuses with the Democrats and, in 2016, was a major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Vice Chair
Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia)
Manchin, 71, was West Virginia's Secretary of State before being elected its 34th Governor in 2004, and US Senator in 2010, when he won the special election to fill the seat vacated by the late Senator Robert Byrd.

Senate Democratic Conference Secretary
Senator Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin)
Followng three terms in the Wisconsin Assembly, Baldwin, 56, represented Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district for seven terms, and was the first woman elected to represent Wisconsin in Congress. 

Elected to the upper chamber in 2012, she became the first openly gay member elected to the US Senate.

Mitch McConnell (KY), the face of the Republican Majority

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, 54, will serve as the Chair of the DSCC, the political campaign arm of the Senate. 

The freshman Senator, elected in 2016 to succeed retiring Senator Harry Reid (D), previously served as the state's Attorney General. She is the first woman elected to represent Nevada in the Senate, and the first Latina elected to serve in the US Senate.


The Republican Majority
Republican re-elected most of their leaders, with a few new names due to term limits and retirements.

Their leadership for the 116th Congress includes Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Majority Whip John Thune (SD), Conference Chair John Barrasso (WY), Conference Vice-Chair Joni Ernst (IA), Policy Committee Chair Roy Blunt (MO), and Todd Young (IN) as RSCC Chair.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Congressional Institute, ABC, Time, Politico

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