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Sens. Schumer and McConnell Elected Senate Leaders

Schumer is set to replace outgoing Sen. Harry Reid who is retiring at the end of the year
Image: Charles Schumer
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. listens during a news conference about legislation on Iran policy and Middle East security, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Evan Vucci / AP, file

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was easily elected by his caucus to lead Senate Democrats for the next two years and Republicans unanimously re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to serve as majority leader.

Schumer, who is set to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, will spearhead the party’s messaging and policy priorities in the first two years of a Donald Trump administration.

The Democrats also expanded their leadership team to ten, a large number of leaders for a caucus of what is expected to total 48 after all elections are finalized. The goal is to encompass all ideological and geographical elements of the party.

On the newly-formed leadership team are liberal icons Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. So is Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate representing conservative West Virginia, who has openly contemplated caucusing with the Republicans.

Giving a major nod to progressives, however, is the appointment of Sanders to the team in a new position of outreach coordinator. After Sanders' unexpectedly impressive showing in the presidential primary against Hillary Clinton, his clout among Senate Democrats skyrocketed. In his role he will appeal to progressives and to working class voters, a group the Democrats now say they are laser focused on after a stinging defeat in the presidential election and winning fewer than expected seats in the House and the Senate.

"It's really terrific that we have the breadth of the caucus represented in the leadership, and I'm really excited about that," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who will chair the Democrats' policy and communications committee. "And we are totally unified in moving forward."

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was also promoted to a newly created position of assistant Democratic Leader. She will work under Schumer and side-by-side with Sen. Dick Durbin who was re-elected to be the minority whip.

The one position not decided on Wednesday was the person to run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is tasked with electing Democrats to the Senate. Whoever takes the job will have a tough task ahead of them. The 2018 election is a difficult year for Democrats as they will be defending 25 seats and the Republicans will only have to defend eight.

On the Republican side, all leadership positions remain the same with Sen. John Cornyn of Texas as whip and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota as the number three.

The only difference in on the Republican side is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado will head the political arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee.