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Wasserman Schultz Will Have Hands Full as New DNC Head

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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will balance her job representing Florida with her new role as DNC chairwoman. Colleagues say she’ll be busy but are glad she’s on their side

One of those things she had taken on in recent years was a prominent role at the DCCC, where she will be missed.

Wasserman Schultz served as the national chairwoman for Member and candidate services this cycle and held a similar role last cycle. She was also part of the organization’s recruiting committee and led the Red to Blue program.

She was expected to be among the DCCC’s top four fundraisers in the 2011-12 cycle, according to updated dues and fundraising totals obtained by Roll Call. And she was already among the top 10 fundraisers in the first quarter of 2011.

Wasserman Schultz raised $178,000 for the DCCC and an additional $250,000 for the committee’s Frontline and Red to Blue programs. The figures obtained by Roll Call show she was expected to raise $4 million for the DCCC this cycle alone. Only three members — Pelosi and New York Reps. Steve Israel and Joe Crowley — had higher targets.

DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider acknowledged that Wasserman Schultz “was a strong member of our aggressive DCCC fundraising team.” 

“While we miss her talents, with record Member participation this year, Members are already stepping up,” Crider added, calling Wasserman Schultz’s post at the DNC “good news for House Democrats.”

Democratic strategist and lobbyist John Michael Gonzalez said it has been years since House Democrats had an “institutional connection” this strong to the DNC.

“This is a huge thing. I think Members will love it,” he said. “I think the only challenge might be ... Members saying, ‘We need the DNC in X,Y or Z state.’ But if that state’s not a battleground state, that’s really going to be where Debbie’s ability to be disciplined comes into play.”

Her House Democratic Caucus colleagues said Wednesday that she’d be an asset.

“Maybe now we’ll have a voice and someone who is going to know the situation that us Members have in our races and why that kind of protection and that kind of concern is important,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

He also predicted that Wasserman Schultz would be helpful during the redistricting fight. “Hopefully we’ll have someone who will listen to us, particularly those of us in the Hispanic Caucus and the Black Caucus,” he said.

Among those diverse groups is the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, of which Rep. Jim Costa is a member. The California Democrat, who like Wasserman Schultz was elected in 2004, said the new DNC chairwoman “is going to have to make efforts to communities throughout the country that reflect those Congressional districts that we lost last year.”

“Those are the swing seats, those constituents are looking for moderate, problem-solving people, and they had a reaction certainly to what was going on last year and some of the overreach,” he said. “That constituency is different than Debbie’s constituency.”

He added that in her other roles she’s campaigned elsewhere, so he’s confident “she’s well-aware” of those differences.

Fowler, meanwhile, said he’s curious to learn how Wasserman Schultz handles the chairmanship.

“When you have the president of your party, the DNC is never an independent agent,” he said.

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