FL-18, FL-21, FL-25: Wasserman Schultz Wants Dem Challengers to Lose

There’s a great passage in The Thumpin’ about former DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel’s frustrations with Democratic colleagues who aren’t serious about doing what it takes to win.  Allow me to share an excerpt:

In early 2006, Congressman Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, was quoted in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel speaking sympathetically of Congressman Shaw, one of Emanuel’s top Republican targets.  Hastings, because of his friendship with Shaw, also refused to endorse Shaw’s Democratic challenger, Ron Klein.  In the Sun-Sentinel article, Hastings even gave Shaw strategic advice on how to defeat Klein, advocating that he knock on doors to connect personally with voters rather than relying on television ads as he had in the past.  Then, in a closed meeting of Democratic House members, Hastings chastised Emanuel and the DCCC for not recruiting more candidates across the country, saying Democrats needed to run a respectable candidate in every House district.

[…]It enraged Emanuel, who saw Hastings as typifying those of his fellow Democrats who were content to criticize but did nothing to help the cause.  “He’s great on lectures,” Emanuel said of Hastings.  “Phenomenal lecturer.  I’m getting a lecture on recruitment when A, you haven’t done a goddamn thing and B, we’ve got a [Republican] target and you’re out there kissing his ass in the press?”

Keep Emanuel’s indignation in mind as you hear the following story of betrayal in South Florida.

Sensing a shift in the political climate of the traditionally solid-GOP turf of the Miami area, Democrats have lined up three strong challengers — Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair Joe Garcia, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, and businesswoman Annette Taddeo to take on Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, respectively.

While there is an enormous sense of excitement and optimism surrounding these candidacies, some Democratic lawmakers, including Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meek, are all too eager to kneecap these Democratic challengers right out of the starting gate in the spirit of “comity” and “bipartisan cooperation” with their Republican colleagues:

But as three Miami Democrats look to unseat three of her South Florida Republican colleagues, Wasserman Schultz is staying on the sidelines. So is Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Miami Democrat and loyal ally to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. […]

This time around, Wasserman Schultz and Meek say their relationships with the Republican incumbents, Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother Mario, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, leave them little choice but to sit out the three races.

“At the end of the day, we need a member who isn’t going to pull any punches, who isn’t going to be hesitant,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Now, you’d expect this kind of bullshit from a backbencher like Alcee Hastings, but you wouldn’t expect this kind of behavior from the co-chair of the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, which is the position that Wasserman Schultz currently holds.  Apparently, Debbie did not get Rahm’s memo about doing whatever it takes to win:

The national party, enthusiastic about the three Democratic challengers, has not yet selected Red to Blue participants. But Wasserman Schultz has already told the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that if any of the three make the cut, another Democrat should be assigned to the race.

“It needs to be somebody who can roll up their sleeves,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I’m just not that person; it’s just too sensitive for me.”

Hey, Debbie: there are no recusals in politics.  If you want to consider yourself a “rising star” in the Democratic caucus, don’t think you can get away with this:

A day later, Wasserman Schultz and Ros-Lehtinen lavished compliments on each other at a Washington luncheon with Miami-Dade commissioners. “I can’t say enough good things about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; she has been my friend since I was first elected to office,” Wasserman Schultz said, noting she relied on Ros-Lehtinen’s advice to help balance the demands of elected office and motherhood. (emphasis added)

Debbie’s behavior is tantamount to no-confidence in Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez, and Annette Taddeo, and a betrayal of her fellow Democrats everywhere.

I have a few suggestions for Debbie, if she’s at all interested in saving her credibility within the DCCC, the caucus, grassroots Dems and pretty much everyone who cares about Team Blue: enthusiastically endorse all three of these candidates and organize a fundraiser for each of them.  It’s the least she could do to help undo the damage that she’s inflicted in South Florida.

Ask yourself: What would Rahm do?

(Hat-tip: FLA Politics)

24 thoughts on “FL-18, FL-21, FL-25: Wasserman Schultz Wants Dem Challengers to Lose”

  1. Not only did she turn her back on our candidates, but she also abandoned the thousands of children without health care who will continue to get a “No” vote on SCHIP and she abandoned the soldiers in Iraq when the Diaz-Balarts and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen continue to cast the wrong votes on those important issues.

    This is politics, there are only 435 seats in that House and we can’t just give them away because we have friends on the other side. Not when health care and ending a war are at stake. She should have known better than this and saved her friendship for outside the US House.

  2. The Miami-Dade Dem blog has a long post on the controversy.


    Personally, I agree with you that she needs to endorse them and hold fundraisers for them or otherwise drop her position.

    Apparently there’s a lot of anger down here and some people are already talking about primary challenges. I’m not sure they would go very far, but maybe it would keep her quiet for now on. She’s in a very blue gerrymandered district, while the three Republicans are in swing districts. Yet she’s the one helping them and compromising on values, while they vote strictly the Republican line.

  3. The Florida Democratic Party has to be the worst state party in the country.  And there are those who would keep Obama or Clinton off the ballot as protest against not seating the delegates.

    Time to primary both of them.

  4. …but do they really believe if the boot was on the other foot the Repubs would be as generous? Of course they wouldn’t!

  5. I hate it when Dems do this. As others have noted above, it's always the Dems who do the compromising. It's as if they're afraid to appear “obstructionist” or “unnecessarily combative” if they actually show a little backbone. And, of course this had to happen in . . . South Florida.  I swear, if that isn't the most haywire political scene in the country, I don't know what is.  Usually, I tell people, “it sucks, but it's home.”  After reading this, I say, “it's home, but it sucks!”

    (With that being said, I am proud to say that congressperson from my family's district is Ron Klein.  He's a good one!) 

  6. Tom Carper, a leading DINO Senator from a solidly blue state used to post on his web site about how closely he worked with Republican Mike Castle.  When I mentioned it in a diary on DKOs (“Tom Carper: Corporate Democrat”) I was chastised by a front pager (I think) for being too harsh on Democrats.  I immediately started doing most of my posting elsewhere.  No need to hang out with those sell outs.

    Party loyalty/orthodoxy was a determining factor in committee chairmanships during the Republican rule in the House.  Not just for campaign positions, mind you, but for regular committee chair assignments.  If the shoe were on the other foot we’d be feeling the impact of the boot on our butt.

  7. Amazing what you can do when you call the office and say you’re from Firedoglake looking to follow up on a story.

    The nice fellow in the press office, though stressed he couldn’t talk politics on the office phone line, did say the she clarified her position and would stay neutral and that it was hard to oppose the people she has to work closely with while bashing them.

    If I had more time, I would’ve grilled this guy…does she think they wouldn’t do that to her. Are we going to find any previous evidence of those Republicans not campaigning for Republicans running for her seat of Rep. Meeks. Will the 3 republicans vow in writing never to oppose Wasserman and Meeks?

    I wonder what Debbie thought of how Tom Daschale was treated by Frist when they had to work together while Frist was killing Tom. Maybe Debbie can get over it?

    Sure, she should still be a Democrat, but as for leading the charge on retaking Red house seats? she’s shown she can’t be trusted.

    I’m all for country before party, but not while campaigning to put your party in office. Once the election is over, you work together.

    Life sucks Debbie.  

    1. Wyden will actually campaign and support the Democratic nominee.  Debbie won’t even do that in these three races!

  8. She was trying to get on the “Keep Red Districts Red” Committee but ended up on the “Red to Blue” Committee by mistake.

    This is all an honest misunderstanding.

    1. that the only one compromising values is our Dem. The Diaz-Balarts and Ros-lehtinen sacrifice nothing from the Party line.

  9. I wouldn’t mind this so much if not for the fact that Republicans would rarely, if EVER, do something like this for us.  Republicans have exhibited stronger party loyalty in general than Democrats do.

    And for the health of the party in the long run, I think that’s a good thing about the Democrats; we’re not just a party of people who all agree with each other and echo-chamber each other–we’re a party of people with diverse and sometimes vastly disagreeing opinions (and we’re not afraid to disagree with each other either), which ensures that we are in fact the party that’s most representative of the country as a whole.

    But when it comes to this, I think she should just keep her mouth shut.  If she feels uncomfortable campaigning against her fellow (but partisanly opposed) congressperson, she should just say, at most, “I think the current congressperson is good but I welcome any credible challenger who can do a better job.”

    That’s what I would do, if I can’t say anything bad about a candidate I oppose.  In fact, I did it recently.  Last year’s Undergraduate Association presidential election at my school consisted of two tickets, one of whom I supported much more than the other since I believed they could do a better job.  However, as much as I didn’t want the other ticket to win (even though they were ahead and won by about 2-1 I think, though I can’t seem to find the results online), I plainly stated that I had nothing bad to say about the opposition.  I simply believed that the candidates I supported could do a better job.

    In short, she should just stay out of this, since she has a conflict of interest between her friendship with the congressperson(s) and her partisan affiliation.

    1. That’s a better idea than the one I suggested below.

      I used to live in Wasserman-Schultz’s district.  I have no reason to say this, because my living there had no bearing on whether I liked her or not.

      But anyway, no better time to get rid of stupid incumbents during an anti-incumbent mood surrounding the entirety of the US Government.

      I want to hear about primary challengers, A. S. A. P..

  10. what, people aren’t allowed to stick with friends, politics is deeper. None of these races compares to Ron Klein’s. None of these candidates are as strong, and all have strong bases in the Cuban communities of these strongly Republican leaning districts to begin with. This touching display of friendship does not happen to make me angry, or upset me, life is short afterall, and I do have many other things to be concerned with, and to get about.  

  11. Seriously, she should not be on the Committee.  Who do we call?  Chris van Hollen?  Emmanuel himself?  She is free to campaign or not, but she should not be on the committee if this is her view on these key races.

  12. I have noticed in all of Debbie Wasserman’s appearances on TV that she is very bias towards Clinton. She should be taken out of her position if she can’t work for the PARTY NOT A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE.

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