Top Democratic Party role for Jewish congresswoman

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

A Jewish politician has been personally chosen by President Barack Obama to take on a senior role within the Democratic Party.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, a position that will give her a significant role in next year's presidential race. With the retirement of Senator Joe Lieberman in 2012, it will also make Ms Wasserman Schultz one of the most high - profile Jewish politicians in the US.

Ms Wasserman Schultz, first elected to Congress in 2004, is a close friend of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in Tucson in January. She was in the hospital room when Ms Giffords regained consciousness.

A mother-of-three, she was diagnosed with breast cancer three two years ago and has had several operations.

She originally supported President Obama's rival Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, but after he was selected as the party's candidate she backed him and repeatedly vouched for his support for Israel.

A founder of America's now-annual "Jewish American Heritage Month", she once worked for the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC).

The NJDC's chair and president said in a joint statement that they were thrilled by the appointment of "a true leader in Congress on so many issues of vital concern to American Jews".

Marc Stanley and David Harris said: "Few people are better positioned to understand the interests of the American Jewish community-and to continue ensuring that they are reflected in all of the work of the Democratic Party.

"This choice, at this timeā€¦speaks volumes about how the Democratic Party continues to be the only party in step with the values of the vast majority of American Jews."

They added: "We wish her a hearty mazel tov on her selection."

Last updated: 9:57am, April 7 2011