President Obama has chosen a strong progressive Democrat to head up the Democratic National Committee. Obama today picked Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz to replace Tim Kaine of Virginia who resigned to run for the US Senate.
As Politico reports:
Wasserman Schultz, 44, was chosen for her strength as a fundraiser and as a television messenger and for her clout in the crucial swing state of Florida, the sources said….
Since she was first elected to Congress in 2004, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has emerged as one of the most outspoken leaders in the Democratic Party, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said in a statement.
“A strong voice for ordinary people who didn’t cause the recession but are too often asked to pay the price, Wasserman Schultz will be a great advocate for President Obama and for Democrats across the country who are fighting to grow the economy and create jobs for middle-class families.”
Vice President Joe Bidden in an e-mail to DNC members that was posted on Huffington Post noted that:
“Debbie has served the people of Florida – first in the Florida State Legislature, and more recently in Congress – for nearly two decades. During that time, she has fought for America’s children, seniors, and men and women in uniform.
In selecting Debbie to lead our party, President Obama noted her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit, and her ability to overcome adversity. President Obama expressed great admiration for her as a leader, and he was honored that she accepted this important challenge on behalf of the Democratic Party.
No one should have any doubt that Debbie will work hard to strengthen our party and our country. I hope you will welcome her as President Obama’s choice for the next Chair of the DNC.”
Howard Dean is going to step down as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is not seeking a second term and will leave in January. He could turn up as a Cabinet member under President Obama – maybe Secretary of Health and Human Services.
As Adam Nagourney on The Caucus blog at the NY Times notes:
“As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Dean pressed the party to expand its efforts and set up offices in all 50 states, arguing that the party was making a mistake in effectively ceding states to the Republican Party. That position led him into some famously pointed clashes with Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who at the time headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign, and who was angry that Mr. Dean was not sending money he had raised to help in Democratic efforts to take back Congress.
Mr. Emanuel was appointed by Mr. Obama last week as the White House chief of staff.”
Donna Brazile, a DNC member is quoted on the Huffington Post saying:
“The 50-state-strategy was successful in laying the groundwork for 2006 and 2008, …. Clearly, the strategy has reaped a harvest of new voters for Democrats and the next Chair will no doubt build upon this foundation for 2010 and beyond. Remember, we have some interesting statewide and mayoral elections next year before the all out organizing for redistricting.”
Sam Stein in his post suggests that a good replacement for Dean might be a duo combination of Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who was a co-chair of Obama’s Presidential campaign and Steve Hildebrand who was deputy campaign manager.
David Corn also on the Huffington Post in a second article suggests that Obama’s Campaign Manager David Plouffe might be a better choice noting specifically that:
Job One of the new DNC chair is to win the 2010 congressional elections as a prelude to winning reelection for Barack Obama in 2012. The party doesn’t need a visionary or public leader in the position. Obama can handle those tasks. (The party on the outs is the one that requires a posterboy or postergirl who is good on television.) The Democrats need an uber-operative who can simultaneously oversee scores of critical House and Senate races, supervise the early reelection effort, and chart out the overall mission of advancing the party’s interests across the country. The next DNC chair should also know a thing or two about fundraising and be able to transform the party into the receptacle for all the grassroots energy and passion that poured into the Obama campaign. Who better than Plouffe to do all this?
Corn notes that Plouffe has communicated that he is not interested yet it is important to note that Obama basically set up an independent campaign organization in his run for President that incorporated fundraising and get out the vote efforts. It obviously worked and from a practical sense the DNC is the logical organization to merge with Obama’s structure and focus to look toward the future.
The choice of who chairs the DNC is the prerogative of Obama as President. It is as critical a choice as any he makes regarding his future and the future of the Democratic Party. It is important that he makes the right choice.