As Obama’s reelection effort gets underway, Democrats today announced their pick of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a gifted fundraiser with a lively TV presence, to head the Democratic National Committee. Her experience in the crucial swing state she calls home was said to be a factor in her selection. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland was reportedly the other finalist under consideration. The news was originally reported by Politico and announced formally to DNC supporters in an e-mail from Vice President Joe Biden. Wasserman-Schultz, 44, will retain her seat in the House as she becomes the first female head of the DNC since Debra DeLee in the mid-’90s.
The post is being vacated by former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who made his decision to run for Jim Webb’s Senate seat public today in a video to supporters. Reports of Kaine’s intentions have been percolating in the press for several months and his hesitation created a few false starts, as well as some uncertainty about Democrats’ prospects in the race. A popular former governor, Kaine was an early supporter of Obama’s presidential campaign, and faces novel challenges in pivoting from his partisan role as the public face of the Democratic party to a competitive campaign in a purple state. The frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination is former Senator and Governor George Allen, whom Webb narrowly defeated in the Democratic wave of 2006. Kaine is well-connected in the state party and is unlikely to face an insurgent primary challenge like the Tea Party effort that may give Allen some early bumps.