Senior Democrats are trying to persuade national Chairman Terry McAuliffe to continue his service as party chairman, especially if none of the current candidates gains momentum in the race to replace him.
About a half-dozen candidates are in the race and a couple of others are considering a run for the position. It will be filled in February at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meetings.
McAuliffe met privately Wednesday with several Democratic senators on Capitol Hill, and was asked again to consider serving for another year or two, Democrats say. McAuliffe’s response was not immediately known, but he has been cool to such overtures in the past.
Democratic senators reportedly at the meeting included Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Charles Schumer of New York.
“Terry McAuliffe has been a great chair and he could continue that,” Schumer said Wednesday. “The bottom line is that Democrats have a lot of good candidates to lead us.”
None of the early candidates for chairman has gained momentum. Some potential candidates – Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Democratic activist Harold Ickes and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman – have dropped out.
Democratic Party spokesman Jano Cabrera said, “The chairman appreciates being asked to stay, but for now he remains focused on handing over a modernized, mobilized and debt-free Democratic Party.”
Cabrera told ABC’s online newsletter The Note that McAuliffe’s “only response for now consists of two words, Dorothy McAuliffe” – referring to the chairman’s wife.
Candidates for the position include former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, Democratic strategist Donnie Fowler and Simon Rosenberg, head of the centrist New Democrat Network. Rosenberg was formally announcing his bid Thursday in Washington.
Others who have been considering a bid include former presidential candidate Howard Dean, former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard and former Texas state chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm.
Democratic governors are watching the contest closely and will send representatives to several regional Democratic meetings where candidates will make their pitch, including a session this weekend in Atlanta.
“Right now, the governors are interested in the concept of an outside-the-beltway candidate and we still have not coalesced around any one candidate,” said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, head of the Democratic Governors Association.
Richardson said he’s open to splitting the job, with a chairman handling the communications and public side of the job and a chief executive handling “the nuts and bolts.”
On the Net:
Democratic National Committee: https://www.dnc.org