Dem. Officials: Wasserman Schultz To Head DNC

Florida Democrat To Helm Central Committee

WASHINGTON - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from South Florida and a key White House defender, has been chosen as the next chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, party officials said Tuesday.

In a written statement Tuesday night, Wasserman Schultz said, "I am so honored and humbled to be President Obama's choice to serve as the next DNC chair."

"She's willing to go anywhere and and fight as hard as she can for ideals she believes in," Broward Democratic Chairman Mitch Caesar told Local 10's Jen Herrera.

The Congresswoman from Weston is putting South Florida in the national political spotlight.

"She's a great motivator of the base and a tireless finance dollar raiser and in a presidential cycle she's the perfect fit to be the DNC chair," Caesar said.

President Barack Obama chose the four-term lawmaker from South Florida to succeed Tim Kaine, who earlier Tuesday announced he would seek a Senate seat in Virginia. The move elevates Wasserman Schultz to a crucial role as Obama looks toward a re-election campaign that will use the DNC to define his likely Republican rivals.

The officials discussed the Wasserman Schultz decision on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet public. Officials said Vice President Joe Biden would announce the news in an e-mail to supporters Tuesday evening.

Wasserman Schultz, who backed onetime Obama rival Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 presidential primary, quickly became a favorite of the Obama campaign. Hailing from the crucial swing state of Florida, Wasserman Schultz became a high-profile advocate for the Obama campaign and then the White House.

"I couldn't have gotten through `08 in Florida without her and she's been there every step of the way through the first term," said Steve Schale, a Tallahassee-based political consultant who ran Obama's Florida operation. "She is a tireless advocate, she's loyal, but she's not a soldier, she's a leader."

As DNC chairwoman, she is expected to serve as a fierce critic of the yet-unformed Republican field of potential challengers to Obama.

Yet she faces challenges at the committee she inherits.

The DNC remained almost $18 million in debt as the end of February. The committee spent heavily in an effort to defend majorities in the U.S. Senate and House; Democratic Sen. Harry Reid remains majority leader, but Republicans won a majority in the House and Nancy Pelosi fell from the speaker's role.

The committee also shed staff in recent weeks, trying to rein in spending and rebuild its bank accounts.

A rising star in Democratic politics, Wasserman Schultz helped raise millions for the committee during previous election cycles.

Wasserman Schultz is the first Jewish Congresswoman ever elected from from Florida. She has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for the last 7 years. Before that ,she was a representative and a senator in the Florida legislature.

In March 2009, the mother of three announced that she had breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy.

"Debbie approached cancer the way she approached everything else in her life -- head on, 100 miles per hour and never give up," said Schale.

The Wasserman Schultz decision was first reported by Politico.

This new job may prove to be the most challenging. As DNC chair, she will oversee and speak on behalf of the democratic party as the president heads toward a re-election bid.

But its a challenge she appears ready to take on.

"As we look toward 2012 in particular, I'm going to be working hard every day to guarantee that President Obama and Democratic candidates up and down the ballot are in the best position to win their races," she said in Tuesday's statement.

"She embodies so much of what we believe in as democrats," Caesar said.

The DNC has 30 days to confirm the President's nomination.

Copyright 2011 by Post-Newsweek Stations. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.