Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Friday afternoon he already has support of “so many of my colleagues” in his bid to become the next Senate Democratic leader, moving quickly to secure the position just hours after current Minority Leader Harry Reid announced he would retire at the end of this Congress.
Mr. Reid said he will serve through the end, which means Mr. Schumer wouldn’t take over for 20 months, but in a stunning move the Nevada Democrat endorsed Mr. Schumer as his successor already anyway.
A source close to Mr. Schumer said the New Yorker already has commitments from an overwhelming majority of his colleagues.
Mr. Schumer, who is serving his third term, is known as a liberal but also as a deal-maker who has been able to work with Republicans on several high-profile issues. He was part of the 2013 immigration bill, and even earned special praise from retiring Sen. Tom Coburn last year for being a worthy legislative partner.
“I am honored and humbled to have the support of so many of my colleagues and look forward to our Senate Democratic Caucus continuing to fight for the middle class,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement Friday.
Sen. Joe Manchin, arguably the most conservative Democrat in the chamber, publicly announced he is supporting Mr. Schumer, calling him both a friend and a bridge-builder.
“He has proven that he can work with moderate and progressive members of the Democratic Caucus, and importantly, with Republican members from across the aisle,” Mr. Manchin said.
The source close to Mr. Schumer said that Mr. Reid, in telling Mr. Schumer about his retirement, encouraged the New Yorker to make calls to shore up support. Mr. Schumer spent most of the day on the phone lining up supporters.
In the run-up to the 2010 election, when Mr. Reid was in danger of losing his election, Mr. Schumer and Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, were jockeying to be in line to replace him.
Mr. Durbin has been Mr. Reid’s top lieutenant for 10 years, and Mr. Schumer has been the No. 3 post, making Mr. Reid’s quick endorsement of Mr. Schumer a stunning move.
But on Friday liberal pressure groups pushed for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in her first term in the Senate, to be the next Democratic leader.
And one group, MoveOn.org, attacked Mr. Schumer for embracing legislation that would give Congress a final say in any deal President Obama strikes with Iran on that country’s nuclear program.