Endorsement: For Democrats, good reasons to keep Wasserman Schultz

Endorsement: For Democrats, good reasons to keep Wasserman Schultz

Democrats have many reasons to nominate U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for a 10th consecutive term in Congress in the new District 25.

Here’s one of the most practical reasons: She sits on the Appropriations Committee, which decides how and where money is spent. In that role, she helped to secure $265 million this year for the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. One of the reservoir’s many benefits will be to replenish Broward’s drinking water wellfields. She also secured $4.5 million for Dania Beach to upgrade the water system in Broward’s oldest city.

Not coincidentally, Wasserman Schultz is the No. 2 Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees water projects. It would be self-defeating for Democrats to choose Robert Millwee, Wasserman Schultz’s opponent in the Aug. 23 primary.

There’s a generational angle to this race. Wasserman Schultz is 55 and a leading member of her party’s establishment, having chaired the Democratic National Committee for five years.

Millwee, a certified public accountant who moved to Hollywood from Massachusetts, is 37, a year younger than Wasserman Schultz was when she was first elected to Congress in 2004 to succeed her mentor, former Rep. Peter Deutsch.

Millwee supports term limits for members of Congress, which we oppose. Like it or not, seniority is still important in D.C. The challenger also criticized Wasserman Schultz for buying stock in an oil and gas drilling supply company when the party’s goal is less reliance on fossil fuels.

Wasserman Schultz has been a consistent opponent of offshore oil drilling and a critic of “Big Oil” and its alliances with Republican extremists.

Extremist Republicans pray at the altar of Big Pharma, Big Oil, and the NRA. They erode our #democracy, try to turn women’s bodies into government property, and refuse to support efforts to fight inflation. @HouseDemocrats will never back down from those fights. pic.twitter.com/eLSWGHfBPL

— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@RepDWStweets) July 23, 2022
In a joint Sun Sentinel candidate interview, Millwee was critical of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, which is way out of step with residents of this liberal district.

Millwee may speak for some younger Democrats who criticize Biden for not achieving everything that the left wing of the party wants. Millwee told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board that Biden “makes our country look like a joke” and that he should not run in 2024.

Wasserman Schultz strongly disagrees on both points. She said Republicans have “no plan” for the real problem of inflation while inventing grievances like schools supposedly indoctrinating students. Attacks from the left on Biden are based on “unrealistic assumptions,” she said.

As a first-time candidate aiming for Congress, Millwee would have done better to seek local office and learn about the ropes of legislating. He also doesn’t know much about the district, especially compared to the incumbent, a long-time Weston resident who has represented it in Washington and Tallahassee for nearly three decades.

Wasserman Schultz currently represents District 23, which includes part of Northeast Miami-Dade where many voters are Jewish, as is she. Republicans removed that portion when they adopted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ gerrymandered congressional map. The renumbered District 25 is entirely within Broward and includes most of the territory south of I-595.

The district has more than a new number since the last census. It embodies many of the rapid demographic changes sweeping across South Florida. We asked both candidates to cite the biggest change in Weston, one of the district’s largest cities. Millwee was vague. Wasserman Schultz wasn’t.

She correctly stated that over the last decade, Weston’s Hispanic population has soared. Venezuelans account for a large share of that increase. By one estimate, roughly 15% of Weston’s roughly 70,000 residents are native Venezuelans, which has prompted a city nickname: “Westonzuela.”

That change explains Wasserman Schultz’s strong advocacy for Biden to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans fleeing the Maduro dictatorship. Biden did that soon after taking office. Donald Trump never did. It remains a puzzle why so many South Florida Hispanics align themselves with Republicans.

The Venezuelan issue also likely explains Wasserman Schultz’s strong criticism of Biden for the administration’s mild loosening of restrictions on travel to Cuba. As when she opposed Barack Obama’s opening to the island, Wasserman Schultz said the Cuban government must make reforms before the U.S. makes any policy changes.

The government has to stop skimming from remittances and travel expenses, Wasserman Schultz said: “There has to be a pathway to people living free.”

As for freedom in this country, Wasserman Schultz does not overstate when she says, “Our democracy is literally at stake. It is essential that Democrats remain in power.”

Because Trump continues to peddle the lie that he won the 2020 election, Florida and other Republican-led states have passed laws designed to suppress the vote in the name of “election integrity.” Some GOP states want to take the drastic step of ending court oversight of redistricting and to allow legislatures to choose presidential electors, regardless of the popular vote.

With almost all other House Democrats, Wasserman Schultz voted recently to codify abortion rights, same-sex marriage and access to contraception. In contrast, nearly three-fourths of House Republicans voted against all those bills.

Wasserman Schultz calls herself “a grass-roots, retail elected official.” Correct on all counts. The Sun Sentinel recommends Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary for U.S. House District 25.