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Stars could align for New York Democrats in Washington

The Clintons and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) celebrate

The Clintons and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) celebrate Hillary Clinton's win as junior U.S. senator for New York on Nov. 7, 2000. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Matt Campbell

New York is poised to take over Washington. Well, not quite yet, but it could happen.

The state's own Sen. Chuck Schumer is the heir apparent to Senate Minority Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who announced Friday that he won't seek re-election in 2016. And New Yorker Hillary Clinton so far has no real competition for the Democrat presidential nomination. So the stage is set for New York ascendant.

Of course, neither is a sure thing. Schumer's rise to most powerful Senate Democrat looks like a pretty good bet because Reid backed his bid Friday. And Clinton, who hasn't yet made it official that she'll run for president, could freefall once again.

And while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Friday that she won't vie for minority leader, passionate supporters are pushing for her to reconsider -- or to jump into the race for president. That kind of pressure could go to her head and change her mind.

But the smart money is still on Clinton, who appears headed for a coronation by Democrats, and Schumer, an indefatigable tactician with sharp elbows and an affinity for the cameras.

Of course, even if Schumer becomes the next minority leader, a few little things would have to break Democrats' way for the two to become our ultimate dynamic duo.

Clinton would have to actually be elected president. And Democrats would have to win a Senate majority for Minority Leader Schumer to become Majority Leader Schumer. To do so, they'd need to hold their 44 seats -- including Reid's, for which current polling showed him with only a slight advantage -- and pick up five more.

Nothing's guaranteed. Still, right now, there's pretty decent chance the federal government could be in for a double dose of New York swagger.

Alvin Bessent is a member of Newsday's editorial board.


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