The 2010 midterm elections were kind of a bummer, if you’re a Democrat. Among Democrats who survived the bloodbath, it’s a really big bummer for Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) — an appropriator and prolific fundraiser whose role in the 2012 cycle is now unclear.
With over 60 seats lost and the party relegated to minority status, the party has fewer perks — leadership positions, plum committee assignments, etc. — to offer its most influential members. As you might expect, it’s created visible tension within the party. It’s also added some bumps to Wasserman Schultz’s once-clear path to party leadership.
When the Republicans take over next year, the ratios on House committees will practically flip. For a lot of Democrats — particularly senior members — this won’t matter much. There’s frequently some correspondence between the number of spots the losing party loses on a committee, and the number of members of that committee who are defeated or retire.
In Wasserman Schultz’s case, though, her seat on the appropriations committee will likely be swallowed by the incoming GOP majority.
On top of that, Wasserman Schultz was once considered a likely candidate to take over the reins of the DCCC from outgoing Chairman Chris Van Hollen. But that job will now be going to Steve Israel (NY), who has a tighter relationship with Nancy Pelosi.
That decision didn’t come as a huge surprise, but it did raise some eyebrows. Wasserman Schultz is a top Democratic surrogate, and a prolific fundraiser. This cycle alone, she raised over twice as much money for the DCCC than Israel, according to figures provided to TPM by a source.
So what’s next for her?
Wasserman Schultz’s staff declined a request for an interview. But according to several Democratic sources — Hill aides and party operatives — the 2010 election was a setback for Wasserman Schultz, but not exactly her Waterloo.
With a broad donor base of donors, and as vice-chair of the DNC, Wasserman Schultz will still be able to raise a significant amount of money for Democrats. And if she’s willing to stay, and if Israel’s willing to keep her, she can remain a part of the DCCC leadership (she currently serves as vice chair for incumbent retention).
“Debbie is still hopefully going to stay in the DCCC leadership,” said a party official close to Israel. “She’s a huge force.”
According to Hill aides and a Democratic member, Pelosi is looking into carving out a role for Wasserman Schultz — to put her and other effective surrogates into higher-profile roles ahead of the 2012 election.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.