Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo, has agreed to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in a move that keeps much of the party's leadership infrastructure in place for the coming cycle.
DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil, Bennet's former aide and friend, will also remain in his job this cycle, a decision that influenced the senator's decision.
Bennet and Democratic leaders announced the DSCC leadership at a Democratic Caucus lunch Tuesday, Democratic sources said.
“Michael is one of the brightest rising stars in the Democratic Party, and he is exactly the right person to lead our efforts over the next two years,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a statement. “Not only does Michael know how to win tough races, he has the trust and loyalty of the entire Democratic caucus behind him.”
Reid offered Bennet the job after the election this month. Bennet weighed it over Thanksgiving. The senator was waiting to confer with Cecil, who returned this week from a post-election vacation. Democrats had hoped Cecil's expected decision to stay on for a second cycle would convince Bennet to take the job.
Cecil was the engineer behind Democrats picking up two seats in the Senate, during a 2012 election when early expectations were that Democrats would lose seats, the only question being how many. The party faces an even more challenging cycle this time around, with 20 Democrats on the ballot, seven of them from solidly-Republican states that Mitt Romney carried this November. The party is playing almost exclusively defense, with only one Republican up for re-election in 2014 in a state that President Obama carried (Sen. Susan Collins in Maine). And mid-term elections for second term presidents also usually favor the opposing party.
But with 55 members of their caucus to 45 for Republicans, Democrats have more breathing room this time. Republicans would need to net six seats to take back control, a steep measure under any environment. In the 2010 wave election -- a high water mark for the party -- Republicans only netted six.
Bennet is a contrast from the most prominent recent campaign committee chairman, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who held the post in the 2006 and 2008 cycles that vaulted the party from minority to supermajority. The senator is less outspoken than his New York colleague, and more interested in policy than political detail. But he is considered an effective fundraiser, one of the most essential skills for a campaign committee chairman.
He was one of the few Republican survivors, along with Reid, in 2010. Bennet was appointed to his seat in 2009 to replaced Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Bennet's 2010 election was his first to any public post.