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Obama Picks Wasserman Schultz to Head Democratic Party

U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Democratic National Committee.

Vice President Joe Biden informed DNC members of Obama’s selection in an e-mail today after the group’s current chairman, former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, announced he is running for the U.S. Senate. The DNC members must confirm the choice.

Wasserman Schultz, 44, was first elected to her House seat in 2004. Her heavily Democratic district includes much of Fort Lauderdale.

She formerly served in the Florida legislature. She made history as the youngest woman elected to state House when she won her seat at the age of 26. She is a breast cancer survivor who went public with her battle with the disease in 2009 to help promote the benefits of early diagnosis.

“In selecting Debbie to lead our party, President Obama noted her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit, and her ability to overcome adversity,” Biden said in his e-mail. “President Obama expressed great admiration for her as a leader, and he was honored that she accepted this important challenge on behalf of the Democratic Party.”

Obama made his selection the day after he officially began his 2012 re-election bid by releasing a campaign video on his website and sending an e-mail to supporters.

‘Red to Blue’

Wasserman Schultz has party-organization experience, serving as co-chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “red to blue” effort in the 2006 campaign, in which Democrats won control of the House from the Republicans. The program was designed to bolster prospects of Democratic candidates in Republican-held districts.

During the 2008 campaign, she worked with the DCCC’s incumbent-retention program. She was also part of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team in the chamber. Pelosi relinquished the speakership in early January after Republicans won the House majority in the 2010 elections.

Wasserman Schultz is among the House members closest to Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat wounded in the head during a shooting rampage while she was greeting constituents on Jan. 8 in Tucson. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was arrested and charged in the attack that left six people dead.

Wasserman Schultz has visited Giffords regularly as she recovers. She was one of those in the hospital room when Giffords raised her left arm just days after the shooting. “It felt like a miracle,” Wasserman Schultz said at the time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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