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DCCC Says Uproar Over DWS Recusal "Much Ado About Nothing"

by: DavidNYC

Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 1:02 AM EDT

The Washington Post has picked up on our frustration with Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is getting brutally walloped in the liberal blogosphere for refusing to endorse the Democratic challengers to three potentially vulnerable GOP incumbents in Florida.

Liberal bloggers are irate that Wasserman Schultz, who co-chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue program, has declined to endorse the Democrats running to unseat Cuban American Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother, Mario Diaz-Balart.

Wasserman Schultz says she doesn't want to stab GOP members of her own delegation in the back. But liberal bloggers say she's killing her own while aiding and abetting the enemy.

I should note, of course, that it's not just the netroots who are up in arms over this - local Democratic leaders in South Florida are furious, too.

The DCCC's executive director, however, totally dismisses the concerns of both groups:

Brian Wolff, executive director of the DCCC, says the bloggers are making "much ado about nothing," noting that it's "customary" for members to remain neutral in races involving GOP members of their respective congressional delegations.

It may be "customary," but it's dead wrong - and Rahm Emanuel fought tooth-and-nail against that decrepit, lazy philosophy. Once upon a time, even Debbie Wasserman Schultz herself did, too. It's sad to see a proud, strong organization like the DCCC resign itself to tolerating this sort of absenteeism. I have to imagine Rahm's heart aches to see this.

Debbie, for her part, accuses us of getting things wrong:

Defending herself against the attacks, Wasserman Schultz told us, "The blogosphere sometimes turns into a game of telephone." She said the bloggers are missing a key point: "I have not endorsed any of the three incumbents, and I don't support their reelection campaigns."

Wasserman Schultz said she supports electing Democrats to Congress but that she has to "balance" her political role at the DCCC with her role as a member of the Florida delegation.

Of course, we never accused her of formally "endorsing" any Republican. We have, however, laid out a clear bill of particulars:

1) No Democrat should be permitted to recuse him or herself from campaigning on behalf of fellow Democrats - especially not the co-chair of the Red to Blue program.

2) No Democrat should gush to the press about how wonderful any particular Republican elected official is, especially not those targeted for defeat.

3) No Democratic party organization, the DCCC included, should tolerate either of the above two behaviors.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is allegedly "frustrated" with us bloggers and wants us "off her back." (I can only assume this applies to the unhappy local Dems in S. Fla., too.) But if she really cared what we think, she or a staffer could have easily reached out to the netroots. Wolff's dismissive statement makes it pretty clear that we're seen as just a minor nuisance.

So it's time we made our voices heard. If you have a problem with the co-chair of the Red to Blue program saying she won't campaign for our excellent Democratic candidates Annette Taddeo, Joe Garcia & Raul Martinez, please let her and the DCCC know about it. Whatever you say or write, I urge you to be firm but exceedingly polite. Our message is strong and true - we don't need to cloud our cause by giving those in power an easy out to attack the messenger.

And what are we asking for? We want Debbie Wasserman Schultz to vocally endorse our South Florida trio and do everything she can to help them get elected (including hosting a fundraiser for each). If she won't do that, then we'd like her to resign from Red to Blue. And we also want the DCCC to stop tolerating Members of Congress who want to "remain neutral" in contested races.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (campaign office):
Phone: 202-741-7154

DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen (campaign office):
Phone: 301-942-3768

DCCC Headquarters:
Contact form
Phone: 202-863-1500

Please do not contact Congressional offices as this is purely a political issue. Just keep in mind what we're fighting for, be polite, and let's remind the folks in charge that our opinions matter.

DavidNYC :: DCCC Says Uproar Over DWS Recusal "Much Ado About Nothing"
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I'm the blogger who spoke with DWS
Thanks for covering this important issue.  Much of the controversy this week arises from my discussion with Rep. Wasserman Schultz on Tuesday.  I just wanted to clarify that the characterization that she was "frustrated" (and the use of the word itself) was mine, not hers.  However, anything that I put in quotes was what she actually said, including the "get [bloggers] off my back" statement.

I agree that we must be vocal, but polite.  I actually don't have a problem with Rep. Wasserman Schultz refusing to campaign against her friends as a general matter.  However, if she wants to put her friendships above her job, she needs to step down from her DCCC role.

I have no reason to doubt, of course, that your characterization of her as being "frustrated" is correct, especially since she used the phrase "get them off my back." I put it in quotes because I was quoting your usage of the word.

[ Parent ]
I agree with your statement
"I actually don't have a problem with Rep. Wasserman Schultz refusing to campaign against her friends as a general matter.  However, if she wants to put her friendships above her job, she needs to step down from her DCCC role."

Same here.  I have no problem with her refraining from campaigning against certain colleagues or for competitors looking to replace certain colleagues of hers.

However, if she has such a reservation, she should recuse herself from the post of being a member of her party's House election campaigns leadership.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
How did Debbie Dubya get the co-chair gig?
Did she actively campaign to get it?
Did she get her arm twisted and took it reluctantly?

If the former, she should resign ASAP.
If the later, she needs to be quickly educated on what the job actually entails (maybe Rahm Emanuel could have a chat with her)

BTW: Big congrats on getting WaPo coverage on this issue! I thought it was pretty good, non-condescending write-up. That's no small feat (tho kos got most of the credit)

Though I don't care about who gets credit (and anyhow, I cross-posted everything at DK) - I care about results!

As for the answer to your question, I'm not really sure. DWS was a (co-?)chair of R2B last cycle. Then, this cycle, they made her head of Frontline, and I believe Artur Davis and one other person were made head of R2B. Only later in the cycle did she get added as a co-chait. (I think.)

[ Parent ]

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