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.