(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
In a packed ballroom of a Capitol Hill hotel, a gleeful Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) addressed cheering supporters in celebration of a political reality few thought likely two years ago: He is still the No. 1 leader in the Senate.
Reid took the stage here at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel just minutes after both CNN and NBC News called the presidential race for Barack Obama and seconds after Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), who pumped her fists in the air and waved.
Murray took the job no one wanted: defending 23 Democratic-held seats. With the assist of gaffe-prone Republican candidates in key races, the Washington Democrat succeeded and it could pay huge dividends for her future within the caucus.
“Whenever there’s been something that’s hard to do, we [look] to Patty. And she delivers,” Reid said to cheers. “I am so satisfied, proud, elated and feel so, so much in debt to Patty Murray, with her many … responsibilities.
“There is no one who has ever done a better job of running the [Democratic] Senatorial Campaign Committee than Patty Murray.”
Murray touted the success of Democratic women especially in maintaining the party’s majority in the Senate. Though the Associated Press had not called the race yet, Murray said that Democratic candidate and Rep. Tammy Baldwin had defeated Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson.
“Harry Reid, I am proud to tell you, you will be Majority Leader!” Murray yelled to the crowd.
Reid also took a less-than-subtle jab at Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), opening his remarks with a taunt, claiming that this result was what happens when one party says its No. 1 goal is defeating the president.
There are still several races that are too close to call, but several Democratic aides circulated through the press room at the hotel touting exit polls in Nevada that indicated the Hispanic vote was even greater this year than it was in 2010, when Reid eked out a victory over tea-party-backed Sharron Angle. Operatives were keeping information on the tight Montana Senate race between incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) and challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) close to the vest.