ENG: Deborah Wasserman Schultz (born September 27, 1966) is an American politician. She is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 23rd congressional district, a member of the Democratic Party and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. She previously served in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. She is the first Jewish Congresswoman ever elected from Florida.
The district covers parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, including the densely-populated coastal cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach.
Early life, education and career
Born Deborah Wasserman in Forest Hills, Queens in New York City, she grew up on Long Island. She is the daughter of Ann Wasserman, who is employed at Macy's, and Larry Wasserman, a CPA.
She received a Bachelor of Arts in 1988 and a Master of Arts with certificate in political campaigning in 1990, both in Political Science, from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
At the University of Florida, Wasserman Schultz was active in student government, serving as President of the Student Senate as well as founder and president of the Rawlings Area Council Government. She was also a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, the James C. Grimm chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary, and the union Graduate Assistants United, served as President of the Graduate Student Council, and Vice President of the UF College Democrats. She had credited her experience in student politics with developing her "love for politics and the political process".
Florida State Legislature
In 1988 Wasserman Schultz became an aide to Peter Deutsch at the beginning of his state legislative career. In 1992 Deutsch made a successful run for United States House of Representatives for Florida's 20th District.
Wasserman Schultz recalled getting a call from Deutsch at the time: "It was really amazing. He called me at home one day in the middle of the legislative session and he said, You could run in my race, your house is in my district." Wasserman Schultz won 53 percent of the vote in a six-way Democratic primary and avoided a runoff. She went on to win the general election and succeeded Deutsch in Florida's House of Representatives. At the age of 26 she became the youngest female legislator in the state's history.
She served in the Florida State House of Representatives for eight years, and had to leave office due to state term limits. In addition to her work as a state legislator, she became an adjunct instructor of political science at Broward Community College, as well as a public policy curriculum specialist at Nova Southeastern University.
With her experience in the Florida House, she ran for the Florida State Senate in 2000 and was again victorious. She supported legislation requiring gender price parity for dry cleaning and an equal number of men and women were appointed to state boards. She pushed through several bills including the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act and one creating a Children's Services Council for Broward County. She received an award from the Save The Manatee Club for her commitment to manatee protection as state senator.
U.S. House of Representatives
Wasserman Schultz is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.
Wasserman Schultz was appointed to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in her first term.
During the 2006 elections, she raised over seventeen million dollars in campaign contributions for her Democratic colleagues (third most after Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel), she was chosen as Chief Deputy Whip and appointed to the Appropriations Committee, a plum assignment for a sophomore congresswoman. She currently chairs the Committee's Legislative Branch subcommittee, which Pelosi returned to the Committee after it was dissolved by Republican leadership in 2005. Shortly after acquiring her spot on the Appropriations Committee, Wasserman Schultz received the waiver necessary to sit on an additional committee (Appropriations is typically an exclusive committee), and she is currently a member of the Judiciary Committee. In addition to her committee and leadership roles, she is a member of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "30 Something" Working Group, which consists of congressional Democrats under age 40. The group concentrates on issues affecting young people, including Social Security. She also has joined the bipartisan Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus. According to the Congress.org 2008 Power Rankings, she was the 24th most powerful member of the House and 22nd most powerful Democratic representative (also most powerful Florida representative).
Wasserman Schultz is pro-choice, pro–gun control and pro–gay rights. She was strongly critical of the Stupak–Pitts Amendment, which places limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Wasserman Schultz initiated the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act. In 2011, Rep. Wesserman Schultz became a co-sponsor of Bill H.R.3261 otherwise known as the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Political campaigns - 2004
In 2004, Wasserman Schultz's mentor, Deutsch, gave up his Congressional seat to make an unsuccessful run for the Senate seat of fellow Democrat Bob Graham. Wasserman Schultz was unopposed in the Democratic primary election held to fill Deutsch's seat. Her Republican opponent was Margaret Hostetter, a realtor who had never held public office. The 20th is so heavily Democratic that Hostetter faced nearly impossible odds in November. However, she gained notability for her attacks on Wasserman Schultz. For example, Hostetter's campaign site criticized Wasserman Schultz for protesting an American flag photograph with a Christian cross on it that was on display in the workstation of a secretary in a government building. Hostetter wrote, "Elect Margaret Hostetter to Congress November 2 and send the clear message that Americans respect and support... the foundational role Christianity has had in the formation of our great nation. Our rights come from God, not the state."
As expected, Wasserman Schultz won, taking 70.2% to Hostetter's 29.8%. However, Hostetter had only spent about $30,000 to get 30% of the vote (compared to Wasserman Schultz's $1.2 million). When Wasserman Schultz was sworn in on January 4, 2005, she chose to use the Tanakh. Because Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert only had a Christian Bible, a copy of the Tanakh was borrowed by Hastert's staff from Congressman Gary Ackerman for this purpose. (This fact was brought up two years later during the Qur'an oath controversy of the 110th United States Congress.)
She was unopposed for reelection in 2006.
Wasserman Schultz won against Independent Margaret Hostetter and Socialist write-in candidate Marc Luzietti.
Wasserman Schultz announced her support of Hillary Clinton for her party's 2008 presidential nomination, and in June 2007 was named one of Clinton's national campaign co-chairs. Once Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee, she endorsed him and joined Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado and Representative Artur Davis of Alabama to second his nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
On CBS's Face the Nation, she declared Sarah Palin to be unready for the Vice Presidency. "She knows nothing. ... Quite honestly, the interview I saw and that Americans saw on Thursday and Friday was similar to when I didn't read a book in high school and had to read the Cliff's Notes and phone in my report", Wasserman Schultz said of Palin's interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson last week. "She's Cliff-noted her performance so far." Wasserman Schultz was also named a co-chair of the Democratic Party's Red to Blue congressional campaign group. Controversy arose in March 2008 when she announced that she would be unable to campaign against South Florida Republican representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen because of her good friendship with them. Wasserman Schultz and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) are both on the LGBT Equality Caucus of which Wasserman Schultz is the Vice Chair.
2010 and 2012
Wasserman Schultz was challenged by Republican nominee Karen Harrington and Independents Stanley Blumenthal and Bob Kunst. Florida Whig Party candidate Clayton Schock ran as a write-in.
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
On April 5, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden announced that she was President Barack Obama's choice to succeed Tim Kaine as the 52nd Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Once confirmed by the Democratic National Committee, she became the third female DNC chief in history and the first in over 15 years. Until she assumed office, current DNC Vice-Chair Donna Brazile served as the interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Wasserman Shultz was confirmed at the meeting of the DNC held on May 4, 2011, in Washington, DC.
Wasserman Schultz got off to a controversial start as DNC Chair. During an appearance on Face the Nation, Wasserman Schultz said, "The Republicans have a plan to end Medicare as we know it. What they would do is they would take the people who are younger than 55 years old today and tell them, 'You know what? You're on your own. Go and find private health insurance in the health-care insurance market. We're going to throw you to the wolves and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for pre-existing conditions. We're going to give you X amount of dollars and you figure it out'". Four non-partisan fact-checkers called her claim false. She then came under criticism for her comments on Washington Watch with Roland Martin, in which she said, "You have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally—and very transparently—block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates". The next day, she stated that "Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use."
Congresswoman Schultz has also been criticized for what has been termed her "frequent absences" from Congress. In 2011 she missed 62 votes of Congress, placing her 45th of 535 in missing Congressional votes. The bulk of those who missed votes did so due to family circumstances, illness, or the Presidential campaign. She has been criticized further for her frequent appearances on MSNBC. Particularly, Dylan Ratigan accused her of coming on his show and just "doing talking points". Many of Obama’s advisers have questioned the move to select Wasserman Schultz as his DNC chairwoman, who they feel comes across as too partisan on television. An internal focus study of the popularity of top Obama campaign surrogates ranked Wasserman Schultz at the bottom.
Wasserman Schultz lives in Weston, outside Fort Lauderdale. She is a mother of three and is married to Steve Schultz. She is an active member of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Planned Parenthood and Hadassah.
In March 2009, she revealed that she underwent seven surgeries related to breast cancer in 2008, while maintaining her responsibilities as a member of the House. That year, she promoted efforts for early screening for breast cancer.
January 24, 2013