Controversial Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced that she will step down from her position at the end of the Democratic National Convention next week.
According to CNN, Wasserman Schultz, who is a congresswoman from Florida, made the decision to resign after facing pressure from top Democrats. In a statement made Sunday, July 23, Wasserman Schultz framed her departure as an effort to focus the Democratic Party on the business of electing Hillary Clinton.
“As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats, but for all Americans. We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had.”
There are signs that the Democratic Party is anything but unified. Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders have long been disillusioned with the Democratic Party primary process. Wasserman Schultz faced heavy criticism during the Democratic presidential primary for her perceived preferential treatment of Hillary Clinton on Senator Bernie Sanders. Complaints have ranged from issues with the low number of debates hosted by the DNC to the party’s apparent refusal to consider Sanders as a viable candidate.
The existence of superdelegates, unbound party insiders whose votes are considered in the process, also struck a sour chord with Sanders supporters and more progressive leaning Democrats. Almost all of the superdelegates backed Clinton before the primary started, and almost none of them have changed their mind despite her embattled campaign. The superdelegates’ resolute support of Clinton led some to accuse the DNC of playing insider politics. Many Sanders supporters have promised to protest and demonstrate during next week’s convention.
The general distaste that some Democrats had for Wasserman Schultz exploded on Friday, July 22. According to the Observer, Wikileaks released thousands of emails sent by DNC staff between January 2015 and May 2016. The emails discuss plans to deal with Sanders’ popularity and the challenge it posed to Clinton’s candidacy.
According to the Observer, the leaked Democratic National Committee emails show that the DNC strategized in favor of Clinton as early as March 2015. Taken collectively, the emails paint a picture of a DNC that was not only opposed to Bernie Sanders as a candidate from day one, but it also actively tried to exert pressure to make him fail.
According to ABC News, after the email leaks, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver voiced public disappointment with the DNC. Weaver went on to demand that someone be “held accountable” for the DNC’s violation of its charter, which dictates that the committee remain neutral among candidates.
Reportedly, DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile will serve as interim chair through the November 2016 election. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, will serve as permanent chair of the convention. Wasserman Schultz will presumably attend, but she will not bring each session to order.
According to the Gazette, shortly after Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her departure from the DNC, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton named her the honorary chair of her campaign. Reportedly, Wasserman Schultz will serve as a surrogate for her campaign in Florida and other key states.
“I look forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid — because as president, I will need fighters like Debbie in Congress who are ready on day one to get to work for the American people.”
Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wasted no time in taking the DNC and Hillary Clinton to task.
[Photo by Richard Drew/AP Images]