By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
TAMPA — Often seen brandishing party talking points on national television and defending the president’s economic record in campaign speeches across the country, there are growing indications that U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, moonlighting as the Democratic National Committee chair, may need to begin defending her own record to keep her job come election time.
Currently representing the 20th district, Wasserman Schultz wants to return to Congress representing the newly drawn District 23, consisting of parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It’s a far cry from the countless cross-country campaign stops which have thrust her upon the national stage in recent years.
On Sunday, Florida’s first Jewish congresswoman invited new rounds of criticism when she told Fox News‘ John Roberts that she was “pretty happy” with the growth in the private sector during President Barack Obama‘s term — a comment that proved to be kindling for the opponents in South Florida.
“Debbie may be happy, but her constituents are suffering terribly and she and her boss are only making things worse,” political activist and GOP candidate Joe Kaufman told Florida Watchdog.
“This November, Americans will have the opportunity to repeal President Obama and his failed job-killing policies as well as his biggest Cheerleader in U.S. Congress, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” said businesswoman and fellow GOP hopeful Karren Harrington.
“That’s part of the hazard that comes when these politicians accept national positions,” said Frank Torres, a blogger and political analyst for Central Florida News 13 in Orlando.
“Her campaigning all over the country really becomes red meat for her opponents, questioning whether she is more concerned with her political future ahead of the best interests’ of her constituents,” explained Torres.
Wasserman Schultz’s office refused to provide comment to Florida Watchdog.
Other GOP candidates for Florida’s 23rd district include U.S. Elections Assistance Commission member Gineen Bresso of Fort Lauderdale, businessman Ozzie deFaria of Weston and radio host Juan Eliel Garcia of Sunrise.
Ilya Katz of Sunny Isles will run for the seat as an independent in the fall.
Since October 2011, Wasserman Schultz’s approval rating on ElectionsMeter, an online forum for evaluting public officials, has dropped from 50 to 14 percent.
“Looking out for No. 1”
Wasserman Schultz has fallen into the trap of political missteps and rhetorical exaggerations enough to even spread doubt in the minds of the very Democratic power-brokers who first supported her for the job of chairwoman.
One top Democratic strategist told the National Journal that Wasserman Schultz’s frequent misstatements on the campaign trail, as well as her harsh tone with Republicans, were enough to persuade President Barack Obama’s team to pass over her for re-nomination to her post as party chair.
And it wouldn’t be the first time she would upset other Democratic leaders.
During the Wisconsin recall battle in May, Wasserman Schultz initially tied the fate of the gubernatorial election to that of the presidential election in the fall, leading her to boast of the strong organization that would prove pivotal to ousting Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“It’s given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do the dry run we need of our massive, significant dynamic grassroots presidential campaign,” Schultz told CNN’s Candy Crowley on May 27.
But in the days leading up to the election on June 5, Schultz backtracked, telling C-SPAN‘s Newsmakers program that a Democratic defeat in the Badger State “wouldn’t spell any repercussions” for her party in the end, especially not the presidential race.
“But I think it’ll be, at the end of the day, a Wisconsin-based election, and like I said, across the rest of the country and including in Wisconsin, President Obama is ahead,” said Schultz.
Walker won the recall election by a wide margin over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
On the campaign trail in January, Schultz used her rhetorical prowess to squarely blame the entire tea party movement for the shooting of her colleague, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, despite the apolitical state of charged shooter Jared Lee Loughner.
“I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it took a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the tea party movement,” said Wasserman Schultz at the “Politics and Eggs” Forum in New Hampshire.
Voters go to the polls for the Nov. 6 general election.