Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday that he had ruled out a run for governor of New York in 2006 and instead would head the Democratic Party’s effort to win seats in the Senate.
Schumer agreed to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and take a seat on the powerful Finance Committee, eliminating the possibility of a gubernatorial campaign, a race that could have pitted him in a primary against state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
The current governor, Republican George Pataki, has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008.
Schumer said in a telephone interview that accepting a position in Democratic leadership was easy, especially when it was coupled with the spot on the Finance Committee and the added influence of affecting New York’s business climate.
“Frankly, I never really had to give it much thought,” he said. “This was just an offer of my dreams. ... The Finance Committee is something I aspired to be on. It’s the most powerful committee and has jurisdiction over so many things that matter to New York, tax and trade.”
Schumer sounded philosophical when discussing the choice, saying the speculation about his ambitions for the governor’s job never reflected his thinking. “I’ve been a legislator my whole life. It’s what I know how to do. I know people didn’t believe me, but Senate was the only thing on my radar screen,” he said.
Schumer, who easily won re-election Nov. 2, telephoned the incoming Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., to accept the offer Sunday night.
In taking the new positions, Schumer agreed to “see the DSCC job through the 2006 election and run for no other office.”
Schumer said Reid pledged that the new job would come with added responsibility for shaping the message of the Democratic Party. He is expected to begin in the new position in January, replacing Sen. Jon Corzine of New Jersey.
Republicans gained seats in the November election and will hold 55 when new members are sworn in this January. Democrats will have 44 seats, in addition to one Democratic-leaning independent.