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Politics

As Obama Sinks in Polls, Democrats Turn to Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Help

August 17, 2014 - 6:00pm

As Barack Obama continues to poll badly across the nation and Hillary Clinton looks ahead to 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is playing a bigger role for Democrats on the campaign trail.

In her role as chairwoman of the DNC, Wasserman Schultz came to Iowa this past weekend to help Senate hopeful Bruce Braley against Republican Joni Ernst. As other races start slipping away, Democrats need to keep the seat, which is currently held by Tom Harkin, if they want to have any chance of retaining the Senate. During her time out in Iowa, Wasserman Schultz went on the attack, trying to paint Ernst as out of the mainstream.

Wasserman Schultz has increasingly become a mainstay of the campaign trail. Back in July, she hit Nevada, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, stumping for Democrats and raising money for them.

Most politicians who tramp around Iowa and New Hampshire are instantly the subject of presidential buzz. But Wasserman Schultz was one of Clintons chief allies in 2008 and will be back at her side if she runs again for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Even if Clinton stays out of the 2016 race, there would be little room for a Wasserman Schultz campaign since Elizabeth Warren would take up much of the oxygen she would need. Wasserman Schultz might have higher ambitions but they are directed toward ending up as speaker of the House or at the other side of Capitol Hill in the Senate.

Clinton is increasingly showing signs of getting active for the fall, including returning to Iowa for an event with Harkin. But theres still plenty of room for Wasserman Schultz to help Democrats -- and herself -- out. Wasserman Schultz is only 47, far younger than Steny Hoyer who is 75 (and older than Nancy Pelosi who is 73). That gives her plenty of time to collect IOUs and build contacts with Democrat congressional hopefuls in a bid to replace Pelosi as the party leader in the House when she steps aside.

Its not like the Republicans are going to mount much of a challenge against Wasserman Schultz this time out. After she thrashed Karen Harrington the last two times out, beating her by 22 percent in 2010 and 27.5 percent in 2012, not surprisingly the Republicans were left with an unimpressive choice of candidates.

In 2012, Harrington took more than 48 percent of the Republican primary in a five-candidate contest, blowing out the likes of Joe Kaufman, who came in second, and Juan Eliel Garcia. Both Kaufman and Garcia are back for another round this time out and they meet in next weeks primary. Neither of these also-rans is expected to give Wasserman Schultz much of a contest in this secure Democrat district.

Safe at home, Wasserman Schultz will be hitting the road in the fall, trying to help Democrats avert disaster come November. With Obama politically poisonous in several of the key states of this election, Democrats around the nation will be calling on Wasserman Schultz to help their candidates -- and with her history of gaffes, that could help Republicans even more.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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