It’s official, the battle for the next Majority Leader has begun. The fact that Harry Reid is running 10 points behind his generic Republican opponent has not escaped the attention of Messers Schumer and Durbin:

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the vice chairman of the Democratic Conference, has been the biggest giver to Democratic Senate candidates, contributing $210,000 to colleagues and candidates.

During the same span, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has given $110,000 to Senate candidates.

The leaders gave money to newcomers and candidates facing tough races. But they also contributed to those whose reelection prospects seem solid, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who last won in liberal Vermont with 71 percent of the vote. While Leahy probably does not need the money for reelection, Durbin and Schumer may feel they need to contribute to his campaign to cement his loyalty.

Both lawmakers gave the money through their leadership political action committees (PACs), which allies say is a sign that they are preparing for a possible leadership battle if Reid (D-Nev.) loses reelection, a prospect that is looking more likely.

Spokesmen for Durbin and Schumer declined requests for comment.

I don’t really think there’s a lot more to say. It’s the latest chapter in a battle that’s been going on since last year, when Schumer was arguing that as a Majority Leader from a red state, Reid would grow timid and be “Daschled” in a midterm. Well, you didn’t have to be the Amazing Kreskin to see that one coming now did you.

So, who should it be? Schumer or Durbin? Discuss.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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