ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer was elected to a fifth term Tuesday, easily defeating a Republican political commentator, but will have to wait to learn whether he’ll be able to keep his title as Senate majority leader.
The 71-year-old Brooklyn native defeated Joe Pinion, who hosted a program on the conservative TV channel Newsmax and faced long odds in a state where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans.
While Schumer’s race lacked suspense, he’ll likely be on the edge of his seat throughout the night, closely monitoring race returns elsewhere that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate in 2023.
If Republicans win, Schumer’s tenure as majority leader will come to an end.
Schumer first won election to the Senate in 1998 after nine terms in the House of Representatives. He became majority leader last year thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote in the Senate, split 50-50 after the November 2020 election.
Schumer has used his party’s fragile majority to pass major legislation including a bipartisan gun violence bill and President Joe Biden’s health, climate and economic package.
Back home in New York, Schumer is known for his Sunday news conferences on bread-and-butter issues ranging from food safety to robocalls to the dangers of teen vaping. His topic on a recent Sunday was shrinking seats on commercial airliners.
“When talking to travelers on airplanes the number one complaint I get is how cramped the seats are,” he told reporters.
Schumer defeated his challengers by wide margins in his 2004, 2010 and 2016 reelection campaigns.
Pinion, 39, served as a spokesperson for a conservative organization that backs “free market” solutions to climate change, and as a political commentator, most recently as the host of “Saturday Agenda” on Newsmax.
Schumer was confident enough in his own victory this year to transfer $15 million from his campaign account to other Democratic Senate candidates and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the party’s campaign arm for senators.
“Keeping and growing the Democratic majority in the Senate is my top priority,” Schumer said when the gifts were first reported in September.