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Debbie Wasserman Schultz: A good fit to replace Tim Kaine at DNC?

President Obama is reportedly set to name Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, considered a rising young star in the party, as the new chairwoman of the DNC, replacing Tim Kaine.

By Staff writer / April 5, 2011

US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) seconds the nomination of Sen. Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in this August 27, 2008 file photo. On Tuesday, Obama selected Wasserman Schultz to serve as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee for the 2012 election cycle.

Mike Segar/Reuters/File

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Washington

President Obama is set to name Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) of Florida as the new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, according to numerous published reports.

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Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz would replace Tim Kaine, who announced Tuesday that he is running for Senate in Virginia. Wasserman Schultz is in her fourth term in the House, representing portions of Broward and Miami Dade counties in south Florida, and will keep her seat while serving as DNC chair. She will be the first woman to chair the DNC since Debra DeLee held the job from 1994 to 1995.

At age 44, Wasserman Schultz is seen as a rising young Democratic star for her debating and fundraising ability – both critical skills for a party chair. In the Democratic House leadership, she is the chief deputy whip. She also serves on the Budget and Judiciary committees, and was recently named national chair for member and candidate services for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But chairing the DNC dwarfs all those other roles, especially heading into a presidential election cycle. Analysts say Wasserman Schultz’s selection comes as no surprise, given the various key demographic groups she embodies: female, young, Jewish, and a mother of three. She is a native New Yorker, but she knows well her adopted home state of Florida, a key battleground in the election. And as a recent survivor of breast cancer, she can speak from personal experience about health care.

“The women’s vote will be critical for Democrats this time,” says Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “She’s a younger face. The youth vote is going to be critical. They’re worried about not getting that out at the level they did last time. Democrats fear they might lose some of the Jewish vote, because of what’s going on overseas.”

Her hard-charging manner might not appeal to everyone. But “for mobilizing key portions of the base and raising money, and especially being on the cable outlets that most Democrats go on, she’ll be very good,” says Ms. MacManus.

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