Now that Tom Daschle (search) has lost his re-election bid to the U.S. Senate and, therefore, his title as Senate minority leader, wheels are in motion to replace the three-term senator.
Daschle lost re-election to Republican John Thune (search) by about a 49 percent to 51 percent margin after the two candidates ran one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in The Mount Rushmore State's history. He became the first Senate party leader in more than 50 years to be voted out of office.
Next in line to take Daschle's place is Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (search) of Nevada.
In a press conference Wednesday outside his office in Las Vegas, Reid, who has been in office since 1986, said he had enough support from the Democratic caucus to be the next leader of the party.
"As I said, in this business, I learned a long time ago ... all you need to do is count. I have more than 30 votes now. And I have calls from 10 or more senators coming in. And you can do the numbers as well as I do," he said.
Reid also stated that President Bush called and offered his congratulations.
"I've disagreed with some of the things he's done. There's no need to talk about the disagreements at this stage. We have to work together ... and the president has reached out to me, I appreciate that very much. He had no reason to call me other than the fact that he knows he's going to have to work with me. I look forward to working with him," Reid said.
Reid has been serving as Senate minority whip, the Democrats' second in command, since 1999, and was ready to take over Daschle's position back in 2003 when Daschle was seriously considering a bid for the presidency.
Reid declined to outline his vision for the Democratic agenda, saying only that it would include efforts on behalf of health care, education and the environment. He also said a top priority will be the war in Iraq.
"We have a Democratic agenda that is still in progress," Reid said. "We have to be willing to work together but yet stand up for what we believe to be appropriate principles. And I'm going to do that."
Earlier in the day, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut had suggested that he may toss his hat in the ring. Dodd has been active this election cycle, forming a political action committee that doled out more than $250,000 to candidates.
But in an interview on a cable news network, the senator said he decided to back Reid.
"I've got a lot of encouragement but I've decided [against running for minority leader] ... I've decided to support Harry Reid," Dodd said.
Reid is a low-key, unglamorous, but tough insider.
Reid, who hails form the mining town of Searchlight, Nev., graduated from Utah State University in 1961 and went on to get a law degree from George Washington University. He served as the city attorney in Henderson, Nev., then later won election to the state Assembly in 1968, at age 28.
In 1970, at the age of 30, Reid became the youngest lieutenant governor in Nevada history, and in 1977, he was appointed chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, a title he kept for five years.
The senator won the first of two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and was elected to the Senate in 1986. He was re-elected in 1992 and 1998.
Some Democrats, however, want a leader with more pizzazz. Reid opposes abortion rights and over the years, it has often been speculated that that position would prevent him from being Senate Democratic leader.
But because of White House aspirations, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who could likely take the leadership post with little effort, might not want it. Clinton's 2008 exploratory efforts will be evident soon enough.
Daschle, who was elected to the Senate in Reid's 1986 class, after serving eight years in the House, told supporters Wednesday that he was "grateful for the extraordinary opportunity."
Reminiscing on his political career, he recalled being mistaken for a paperboy years ago. "Well, that doesn't happen anymore," he said. "I'm a lot more recognized. I'm a lot grayer. I'm a grandfather ... a lot wiser."
Sen. Jon Corzine, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee, released a statement Wednesday, saying it's been an "honor and a privilege" to work under Daschle.
"Tom Daschle's service in the Senate may be coming to an end, but his service to the people of South Dakota and to our nation will never be forgotten," said the New Jersey lawmaker.
"We entered yesterday's election with outstanding candidates and strong campaigns. I am proud of our effort. From the candidates to the resources to the organizations on the ground, we did everything within our control to be in a position to win. What we could not control was a map — which was tilted decidedly in our opponent's direction — and an unexpectedly strong showing by President Bush at the top of the Republican ticket nationally.
FOX News' Julie Asher, Carl Cameron and Molly Hooper contributed to this report.