The indispensable Marc Caputo has opened up a can of worms for DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz with some excellent reporting the last two days. Caputo’s groundbreaking Thursday piece described the difficulties Wasserman Schultz has both with her DNC post and potential run for US Senate due to her bizarre positioning last year on Amendment 2. Wasserman Schultz’s voting record in Congress is also a subject many advocates of Medical Marijuana find unfathomable considering the DNC Chair considers herself a leading progressive.
Since last summer, I have probed friends, political associates and others whose opinions I value about Wasserman Schultz’s motivations. Some of the takeaways I can report are as follows:
- Wasserman Schultz was already seen by many as an unlikely successful statewide candidate although without question she has a higher profile than just about any elected official in Florida. But many feel her stand on Medical Marijuana made her LESS electable among Democratic Primary voters she would need to win. Her stand would also alienate enough moderate Republicans and Libertarian minded NPA’s that should she be nominated she could not be elected. Subsequently, any time her name has been brought up in discussion where I am present regarding statewide office, this issue always is raised.
- She was a leading member of a Congress that passed Obamacare, which many progressives begrudgingly accepted. A feeling among some activists I speak with is that Wasserman Schultz very well might be paying back pharmaceutical companies and perhaps even the insurance lobby with her inexplicable stand on Medical Marijuana. I would like to of course believe this is not the case, and no evidence exists as to this being among her reasons – but I have heard from enough people to feel comfortable raising the issue here.
- Wasserman Schultz’s position may be born out of a disconnect from Florida activists due to her increasing responsibilities raising money and serving as the party’s spokesperson on a national level. When she was in the State House, Wasserman Schultz was one of the most liberal members but also perhaps the one who meet most regularly with local activists who supported progressive causes. This continued when she was in the State Senate. At the time she was well ahead of public opinion on many issue the left cared about. But today, after years in Washington and a visible national role, she spends more time around donors and DC-based consultants than residents of Broward County. This is sometimes the natural evolution of a political person, but one which takes a public star further and further away from being grounded in reality.
Caputo had a follow up story today indicating Wasserman Schultz might want to make a deal on this issue after all. Even if she does cut such a deal, chances are the damage to her statewide ambitions are already done. Whether she can overcome it remains to be seen.