Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., arrives at the Virginia Democratic "Victory for Virginia" election party, in Tysons Corner, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
Cliff Owen/AP Photo

Senate Democratic leadership gets one more member

A few weeks ago, Senate Democrats announced they were expanding their leadership team from four members to five, creating a new position for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The announcement was made to significant fanfare, drawing cheers from the party’s base, and reminding the political world that Warren is a force to be reckoned with.
 
Over the holiday weekend, Senate Dems decided to expand the leadership team just a little more.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is taking on the role of policy development advisor at the Democratic Policy and Communications Center. He joins a leadership team that previously expanded in number with the addition of progressive heroine Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts.
 
New York’s Charles E. Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, made the announcement in a statement Friday.
Note, in this case, Friday was the day after Thanksgiving. The press statement was released late in the afternoon – usually a time for dumping news officials hope the public will miss.
 
As for why Dems seemed eager to keep this quiet, your guess is as good as mine. If the party were eager to appear more centrist in voters’ eyes, it seems Senate Democrats would have announced Warner’s new role today, not Friday.
 
What’s especially interesting about this, though, is the fact that Warner was promoted despite his votes in the recent Democratic leadership election.
 
The Virginia Democrat, who was expected to cruise to an easy win before eking out a narrow victory, voluntarily announced recently that he did not support keeping Harry Reid on the Senate Dems’ leader – one of only four Senate Dems to publicly acknowledge a vote against the soon-to-be Minority Leader.
 
As a rule, when members buck their party in leadership races, and vote against their own leaders keeping their jobs, those senators face some kind of rebuke. Warner, on the other hand, got a promotion.
 
Explanations vary, but by most accounts, Schumer hoped to reassure some of the party’s financial backers by demonstrating ideological balance – adding Warren helped ensure progressives had a fresh voice among party leaders, while adding Warner did the same for the party’s more conservative contingents.
 
Republicans just don’t seem to have these kinds of concerns. Since it’s a party without any real ideological diversity, GOP leaders don’t have to reflect a variety of viewpoints.
 

Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner and Senate Democrats

Senate Democratic leadership gets one more member