Cennamology Chief Editor
With all the talk about the anticipated presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, it seems that the Democratic Party is ready to nominate a woman for president in 2016.
However, one powerful Democratic woman who is getting zero buzz about a presidential campaign is Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. This is unsurprising, since she has never given a shred of inclination of any desire to be president whatsoever. Despite this, she has one of the most impressive records of almost any Democratic woman in the country, and the idea of a Murray presidential campaign should at least be floated.
Patty Murray may be vertically challenged (standing at only five feet tall), and may not be the most "presidential" looking member of the U.S. Senate, but she is certainly one of the most influential members of the upper chamber. She should use this influence and her vast electoral experience to at least explore a campaign for president.
In 2012, as the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, she successfully recruited strong candidates for Democrats in several states as well as protecting all of the party's incumbents. Not only was Murray a major reason why Democrats not only held on to the Senate, but shocked operatives and commentators everywhere when they actually picked up two seats - she also helped steer the national campaign to keep the Senate into a referendum on a Republican-led House of Representatives.
Very few people expected the Democrats to have a legitimate chance of actually picking up Senate seats in 2012, but thanks to Murray, the odds were overcome. The narrative was that it was the Democrats who were on the defensive in 2012 in the fight for the Senate, but Murray's leadership helped flip the campaign and she put the Republican candidates on the defensive on women's issues, an unpopular lower chamber, and debt ceiling threats. Because of this, only one out of five Republican candidate seeking promotion from the House to the Senate (Jeff Flake of Arizona) won their election.
Because the Democrats exceeded expectations in the 2012 U.S. Senate elections, Patty Murray had one of the best years in Washington that year. Her tenure as head of the DSCC proves that Murray is capable of leading a campaign on a national scale - and win too. Very few people have the experience she has, and she could translate this experience into a presidential campaign.
Another reason why Patty Murray should consider a presidential campaign is that she is one of the few senators who has proven to be able to work with the other side and come together to pass major legislation. As the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, she came together with her House counterpart - former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan - put together a budget deal that was able to pass Congress, something that had not been done in years.
Politico put it best in a December article saying: "The veteran Washington Democrat...had quietly and methodically built a close relationship with a man long villified by the White House and congressional Democrats...But after private negotiations with each other...the two were able to do what seemed impossible in a gridlocked Congress: read a bipartisan budget accord."
Last year, Murray proved that she has the bipartisan dealmaking ability that every president needs. Her position as the Democratic Conference Secretary makes her the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and she risked angering much of her allies by working with a man whose drafted a budget that was a target in Democratic campaign ads all over the country. Murray needed, and eventually was able to receive, broad support from her party for a plan that would also bear Paul Ryan's name on it.
The eventual budget bill that emerged from the secret negotiations between Murray and Ryan had provisions that the left and right were uneasy about, but she convinced her own side that both parties will have to make some concessions in order to get anything passed. She made the bill more acceptable to Democrats by convincing Ryan to lower the cut to federal pension programs from $20 billion to $6 billion.
Murray understood the limits of what she could accomplish with the budget bill, and this ability to distinguish between what is possible and what is not in a polarized Washington is an asset that the next president must have. This understanding is necessary in order to get legislation passed, and because Murray has this she was instrumental in the passage of one of the few pieces of major legislation during this do-nothing Congress. Because of this, there are few people in Washington who I would trust more to get the fiscal house in order, as well as make practical political decisions, than Patty Murray.
Although I know it probably will not happen, I still do wish Patty Murray would at least take a look at throwing her hat into the ring for the White House in 2016. She has never been an imposing figure and is usually not one who seeks the spotlight, but we do not need someone who is good in front of the cameras as out next president, we need someone who can bring both sides together when necessary and knows what is feasible and what is not. That person is Patty Murray.