Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D)

Florida | District 23

N/A

wassermanschultz.house.gov

Biography

Elected: 2004, 5th term.

Born: September 27, 1966, Forest Hills, NY (Queens)

Home: Weston, FL

Education: U. of FL, B.A. 1988, M.A. 1990

Professional Career: State legislative aide, 1989-1992.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Jewish

Family: Married (Steve Schultz) , 3 children

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a hard-charging Democrat elected in 2004, was tapped as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in April 2011 in acknowledgment of her skills as a media messenger and fundraiser. Despite clashing with President Barack Obama’s reelection team during the 2012 campaign, she helped Obama carry her home state while her party picked up seats in the House and Senate, and she was asked to stay on for a second term at the DNC.

Like many of her constituents, Wasserman Schultz was born in Queens. She grew up on Long Island, where she ran for student council every year and always lost. She got bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida. In her last year at school, she sent out 180 resumes to legislators in Florida and New York and got five interviews. Florida State Rep. Peter Deutsch, a Democrat and former New Yorker from Broward County, gave her a summer job and then appointed her as his legislative aide. In 1992, he ran for the 20th District House seat and urged Wasserman Schultz to run for his seat in the legislature. She did, knocking on doors for six months and finishing far ahead of four opponents in the Democratic primary. At age 26, she became the state’s youngest woman ever elected to the state House. She served eight years in the state House, including two years as minority leader, followed by four years in the state Senate. She called herself “a pragmatic liberal,” and she sponsored a controversial law to require an equal number of men and women on state boards and a bill that failed to pass requiring that dry cleaners and some other businesses charge the same prices for women as for men.

When Deutsch ran in 2004 for the Democratic nomination for Bob Graham’s open Senate seat, Wasserman Schultz moved to again replace Deutsch, this time in Congress. She began laying the groundwork early. More than a year before the primary, she had raised $115,000. By February 2004, she had lined up endorsements from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and six of Florida’s seven House Democrats. Wasserman Schultz ultimately collected more than $1 million for what turned out to be an uncompetitive race, since no one else filed to run in the decisive Democratic primary. Wasserman Schultz called for repeal of the Bush tax cuts, a reduction in the budget deficit, greater use of diplomacy overseas, improved prescription drug coverage, gay civil rights, and abortion rights. Against a Republican who attacked the “homosexual agenda” in the public schools, she won 70%-30%. She has not faced a serious challenge since, allowing her to channel campaign contributions from a wide spectrum of Democratic interests to her colleagues. In 2009, she raised nearly $5 million for House Democrats, matching the dollars brought in by more senior leaders.

In the House, she has a mostly liberal voting record, although it’s more centrist on foreign policy. She helped found the Cuba Democracy Caucus, a bipartisan group that works to thwart efforts to loosen the U.S. trade embargo with the island nation. She sponsored a bill, passed by the House in 2007, toughening the Internet Crimes Against Children program by adding hundreds of federal agents at a cost of $1 billion over eight years. She has been one of the Florida delegation’s most ardent opponents of offshore oil drilling, declaring after the 2010 BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that “our country needs to run on something other than oil.” Wasserman Schultz worked with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to pass a bill into law at the end of 2012 giving law enforcement additional authority to combat child pornography while imposing tougher penalties on offenders. The House also passed her bill in August 2012 to curb tax-return identity theft.

In 2011, Wasserman Schultz beat out former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to take the helm of the DNC, with Vice President Joe Biden citing “her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit, and her ability to overcome adversity.” She brushed aside speculation from some colleagues that she couldn’t balance her duties with the demands of her House seat. Vowing that the party would be “laser-focused on the economy” as it sought to reelect Obama, she was a ferocious Republican critic. She blamed the GOP for soaring gasoline prices in May 2011, citing “ridiculous, unacceptable subsidies to oil companies and massive tax breaks that even they have said they don’t need.” Later, she blasted House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint because it would “allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for pre-existing conditions” – a claim that the fact-checking website PolitiFact judged to be false. And Republicans were outraged in September 2012 when she contended that Israel’s U.S. ambassador had said that “what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel,” then accused the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner newspaper of “deliberately” misquoting her on the subject, even though her statement was captured on video.

But what drew the most attention was her ugly feud with Florida freshman Republican Rep. Allen West, an outspoken hero of the tea party movement. West emailed her and several congressional leaders in July 2011, describing her as “the most vile, unprofessional and despicable” member of the House and said she had “proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady.” West defended the email, saying it came at the end of a series of attacks against him, and accused her of personally criticizing him on the House floor.

Wasserman Schultz was frequently deployed as a campaign surrogate for Obama, eventually attending a total of 885 events in 31 states. But she developed a strained relationship with Obama campaign officials, who privately accused her of coming across as too partisan on television. They also fought with her over her choice of staff and reportedly wondered if they had made the right decision in selecting her. Nevertheless, Election Night’s results served as her vindication: Not only did Obama win with substantial support from women and Jewish voters, two constituencies that Wasserman Schultz cultivated, but he captured Florida, a state where Republican Mitt Romney enjoyed a sizeable lead in pre-election polls. At the same time, Democrats remained in control of the Senate. And even though the party was unable to take back the House, it claimed some important victories – including West’s seat. With Pelosi staying on as minority leader, it appeared Wasserman Schultz had no promotion in store in the House, and Obama’s aides saw little political benefit to dumping a loyal soldier.

After the election, Wasserman Schultz continued to indulge her fondness for tough talk. As she told Politico in 2013: "I don't really do anything halfway." She helped lead the charge that the Republican Party was engaging in a "war on women," an expression meant to highlight the wide gender gap between the parties. She also fiercely defended against attacks on the Affordable Care Act and predicted on CNN in November 2013: “I think actually that Democrats will be able to run on Obamacare as an advantage" in the future. But her comments occasionally landed her in hot water. In a visit to Wisconsin in September 2014, she said controversial GOP Gov. Scott Walker "has given women the back of his hand ... What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is, they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back." After causing a firestorm, she said, "I shouldn't have used the words I used."

Wasserman Schultz rankled some Democrats as well. After being reelected as DNC chair in 2013, she got rid of the organization's secretary, Alice Germond, The move caused such turmoil that Wasserman Schultz named Germond a "secretary emeritus." The following year, Pelosi supported Germond to lead the DNC Women's Caucus while Wasserman Schultz picked Lottie Shackleford, a longtime DNC vice chair. Wasserman Schultz prevailed, but the campaign between the two women reportedly stirred unease. Two months earlier, Orlando attorney John Morgan -- a major Democratic donor -- went public with his frustration over her concerns about a medical marijuana proposal that he had worked to put on Florida’s ballot in November. "I know personally the most powerful players in Washington, D.C. And I can tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked. She’s despised. She’s an irritant,” Morgan told the Miami Herald.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/06/4162344/major-democratic-donor-bashes.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/06/4162344/major-democratic-donor-bashes.html#storylink=cpW

Her blazing ascension up the leadership ladder began in 2006 when she was appointed co-chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” effort. Working closely with then-Chairman Rahm Emanuel, now Chicago mayor, she became a party spokesperson and a mentor to Democratic recruits. When Democrats won House control that year, Majority Whip James Clyburn tapped her as a chief deputy whip. She also snagged a seat on the Appropriations Committee, and immediately became a “cardinal” as chairman of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee. Working with ranking Republican Zach Wamp of Tennessee, she took charge of the Capitol Visitors Center project, which was plagued by cost overruns, and extracted commitments on costs and completion dates. She pushed successfully for a unionization vote at the Government Accountability Office.

In the 2008 election season, Wasserman Schultz was criticized by liberal bloggers when she refused to campaign against the three Cuban-American Republican members from South Florida as part of her DCCC duties. They were facing unusually strong Democratic challenges, and ultimately all three—Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and brothers Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart—were reelected. Also in 2008, Wasserman Schultz was co-chair of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential effort in Florida and nationally, and she was named vice chair of the DCCC’s incumbent retention program. A National Journal poll of anonymous congressional insiders in 2009 predicted she had the brightest political future of anyone on Capitol Hill.

Her success seemed all the more impressive when she announced in March 2009 that for much of the previous year she had been battling breast cancer. Although her tumor was in early stages, which would typically require only surgery and radiation, she said that she elected to have a double mastectomy after learning that as an Ashkenazi Jew, she had a greater predisposition to recurrence. The mother of three school-aged children, Wasserman Schultz was diagnosed just after turning 40. “I didn’t want it to define me,” she told The New York Times of her illness. “I didn’t want my name to be ‘Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is currently battling breast cancer.’’’

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-7931

(202) 226-2052

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1114
Washington, DC 20515-0923

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-7931

(202) 226-2052

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1114
Washington, DC 20515-0923

DISTRICT OFFICE

(954) 437-3936

(954) 437-4776

10100 Pines Boulevard
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026-6040

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-7931

(202) 226-2052

10100 Pines Boulevard
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026-6040

DISTRICT OFFICE

(305) 936-5724

(305) 932-9664

19200 West Country Club Drive Third Floor
Aventura, FL 33180-2403

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-7931

(202) 226-2052

19200 West Country Club Drive Third Floor
Aventura, FL 33180-2403

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

1071 Twin Branch Lane
Weston, FL 33326

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-7931

(202) 226-2052

1071 Twin Branch Lane
Weston, FL 33326

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Sarah Farhadian
Legislative Director

Aerospace

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Agriculture

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Appropriations

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Arts

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Michael Liquerman
Press Secretary; Outreach Coordinator

Budget

Rosalyn Kumar
Deputy Chief of Staff (ON MATERNITY LEAVE)

Education

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Energy

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Environment

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Family

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Foreign

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Grants

Michael Liquerman
Press Secretary; Outreach Coordinator

Gun Issues

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Health

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Housing

Vivian Piereschi
Senior Congressional Aide

Jonathan Steinberg
Staff Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Human Rights

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Immigration

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Bettyanne Gallagher
Director of Constituent Services and Casework

Internet

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Judiciary

Sarah Farhadian
Legislative Director

Labor

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Medicare

Vivian Piereschi
Senior Congressional Aide

Military

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Religion

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Science

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Social Security

Vivian Piereschi
Senior Congressional Aide

Sarah Farhadian
Legislative Director

Tax

Sarah Arkin
Senior Policy Advisor

Rosalyn Kumar
Deputy Chief of Staff (ON MATERNITY LEAVE)

Michael Liquerman
Press Secretary; Outreach Coordinator

Technology

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Telecommunications

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Trade

Rosalyn Kumar
Deputy Chief of Staff (ON MATERNITY LEAVE)

Transportation

Seth Extein
Policy Advisor

Veterans

Vivian Piereschi
Senior Congressional Aide

Jonathan Steinberg
Staff Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Michael Liquerman
Press Secretary; Outreach Coordinator

Women

Sarah Farhadian
Legislative Director

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Votes: 103,034
Percent: 62.65%
Joe Kaufman
Votes: 61,428
Percent: 37.35%
2012 GENERAL
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Votes: 174,205
Percent: 63.25%
Karen Harrington
Votes: 98,096
Percent: 35.62%
2012 PRIMARY
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Votes: 100,787
Percent: 60.15%
Karen Harrington
Votes: 63,845
Percent: 38.1%
2010 PRIMARY
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Votes: 202,832
Percent: 77.48%
Margaret Hostetter
Votes: 58,958
Percent: 22.52%
2008 PRIMARY
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (60%), 2008 (77%), 2006 (100%), 2004 (70%)

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