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Wasserman Schultz Under Siege from Liberal Bloggers

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is getting brutally walloped in the liberal blogosphere for refusing to endorse the Democratic challengers to three potentially vulnerable GOP incumbents in Florida.

Liberal bloggers are irate that Wasserman Schultz, who co-chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue program, has declined to endorse the Democrats running to unseat Cuban-American Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother, Mario Diaz-Balart.

Wasserman Schultz -- along with Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), who also refuses to endorse challengers to the three Cuban-American Republicans -- says she doesn't want to stab GOP members of her own delegation in the back.

But liberal bloggers say she's harming her own while aiding and abetting the enemy. The political blog Swing State Project has even given the congresswoman a pet name to reflect that unholy allegiance: Debbie Dubya.

The bloggers are calling for Wasserman Schultz to step down from her leadership role at the DCCC unless she endorses the Democratic challengers. And they're not letting up, even after one Florida liberal blogger reported that the congresswoman seemed "frustrated" with the blogosphere's coverage of her and implored the blogger to "please help get them off my back."

This prompted even harsher reaction from perhaps the most influential of the progressive political bloggers, Markos Moulitsas, a.k.a., Kos, founder of Daily Kos, who wrote on his blog Wednesday: "Frustrated? On so many fronts, the Republicans are standing in the way of progress, on Iraq, SCHIP, health care, fiscal responsibility, corruption, civil liberties, and so on. Those three south Florida Republicans are part of that problem. And she's going to be 'frustrated' that people demand she do her job?"

Kos said Wasserman Schultz "has no business" co-chairing the DCCC's Red-to Blue program "if she cannot faithfully discharge its duties" to expand the number of Democratic seats in the House.

Defending herself against the attack, Wasserman Schultz told the Sleuth Wednesday afternoon, "The blogosphere sometimes turns into a game of telephone." She said the bloggers are missing a key point: "I have not endorsed any of the three incumbents and I don't support their reelection campaigns."

Wasserman Schultz said she supports electing Democrats to Congress but that she has to "balance" her political role at the DCCC with her role as a member of the Florida delegation. As for that unfortunate nickname, she said, "I don't have any comment to that."

Brian Wolff, executive director of the DCCC, says the bloggers are making "much ado about nothing." He says it's "customary" for members to remain neutral in races involving GOP members of their congressional delegations. In other words, he says, a refusal to endorse a Democratic challenger isn't a tacit endorsement of the GOP incumbent.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 19, 2008; 4:40 PM ET
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