PHILADELPHIA—The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee resigned Sunday after a trove of emails were disclosed showing DNC officials had worked to undermine the underdog presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said in a statement that she would leave her post at the DNC at the end of this week’s convention. She said she would still open and close the gathering and would address the delegates.
“My first priority has always been serving the people of the 23rd district of Florida and I look forward to continuing to do that as their member of Congress for years to come,” she said in a statement. But she said the “best way” to fulfill her goals was to step down.
Given antipathy to her from hundreds of Sanders delegates who will be in the hall, it is likely that she will be booed each time she takes the stage.
Mr. Sanders has long accused Ms. Wasserman Schultz of favoring presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and had wanted her fired. But the Clinton campaign stuck by her and it was thought that she would survive until her term expires after the November election.
Then Friday, the WikiLeaks website released a database of more than 19,000 emails allegedly sent from DNC officials between early 2015 and mid-2016. Some of the emails show DNC staffers discussing ways to weaken Mr. Sanders’s campaign.
She angered medical marijuana advocates by opposing a voter initiative last year.
MIAMI — Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interest in running for U.S. Senate has encountered strong resistance from a usual ally of her party: medical-marijuana activists.
Because of her congressional votes and her criticisms of a Florida medical-marijuana initiative last year, four political groups that advocate for prescription cannabis and drug decriminalization vowed to campaign against the Florida representative if she sought the Senate in 2016.
“She’s voted repeatedly to send terminally ill patients to prison. And we’re certainly going to make sure Floridians know that – not to mince words,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance, which has received funding from liberal luminaries such as George Soros.
“This issue is evolving very quickly and hopefully she will evolve,” Piper said. “But if she doesn’t, you can expect medical marijuana patients and supporters to dog her on the campaign trail.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.
The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.
She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster,” said John Morgan, a major donor in Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida.
The stakes are high. Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.
One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.
In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago.