Another Term for McAuliffe as DNC Chair?

ByABC News
January 4, 2005, 6:22 PM

Jan. 4, 2005 — -- Top Democrats are working to convince current Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe to remain in his post for at least another 12 months as the party prepares for the 2006 midterm elections.

McAuliffe is due to give up the job five weeks from now, when his four-year term expires, at the DNC's winter meeting in Washington. Those Democrats trying to convince him to stay on the job fear the large crop of candidates for chairman has failed to inspire the 447 voting members of the national committee.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is aware of the efforts to convince McAuliffe to stay, Democratic sources said, and has not put the kibosh on the idea. Some Democrats said Reid had tacitly encouraged the scenario if no front-runner emerged soon.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the new head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has been among the most vocal of those urging McAuliffe to remain, party sources said.

"There are many good candidates for DNC chair," Schumer, D-N.Y., told ABC News. "Terry McAuliffe has been a great chair and could continue to be one."

Those who want McAuliffe to stay on fear that choosing a new leader without a solid mandate would destabilize the party at the very moment when it most needs a steady hand. McAuliffe, they say, could build on his successes and incorporate many of the ideas being proposed by those who want to replace him.

Others worry that no current aspirant for the job has galvanized enough support to prevent former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean from being voted into the chairman's spot. This is a less-than-ideal scenario for those in the party who consider the former presidential candidate to be too polarizing. Dean gained a boost this week as Rep. John Murtha, a conservative House Democrat who supported the Iraq war resolution, wrote to Pennsylvania delegates urging that they select Dean for chair.

A Democrat who has discussed the option with McAuliffe said, "He's thinking about it, but I see no indication that anyone has moved him."

This Democrat and others said they would not speak on the record because the overtures to McAuliffe were made in confidence and they did not want to offend the candidates seeking to replace him.

McAuliffe, a master fund-raiser who began to rebuild the party's dilapidated technological infrastructure, has said he would not run for another two-