NJ's Menendez Will Head Key Dem Committee

First Latino in Senate campaign post takes over for Schumer
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2008 1:45 PM CST
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, talks to reporters outside the immigrant detention center in Elizabeth, NJ, July 28, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Robert Menendez will replace Charles Schumer atop the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Hill reports today, giving the committee its first Hispanic leader. New Jersey’s Menendez has a tough act to follow in New York’s Schumer, who helped Democrats pick up six seats to take the majority in 2006, then seven more this year.

Menendez takes the reins looking toward the 2010 election. Though midterm contests generally favor Republicans, Democrats are defending only 15 seats this time, to 19 for the GOP. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described Menendez as “aggressive, focused” and “widely respected.” “Bob Menendez will be a superb leader,” he said. Schumer likewise called Menendez a “great choice.”