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Wasserman Schultz Expected To Be DNC Chair; Tim Kaine To Run For Senate

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, November 2010.
Alan Diaz
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, November 2010.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) is expected to be named the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, NPR has learned.

Wasserman Schultz would succeed Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor, who has announced he will run for a U.S. Senate seat from his home state.

In her fourth-term, she represents Florida's 20th Congressional District, which runs from Miami Beach north to Hollywood, Fl and Ft. Lauderdale, then west to towards the Everglades. The fact that she's from an important battleground state likely added to the argument for Obama naming her to the important party post.

Wasserman Schultz is considered one of the brighter lights in the House Democratic Conference, smart with an effervescent personality.

For those reasons, she is often sought out by the media for interviews. Those same qualities made her one of the top surrogates during the 2008 Democratic presidential race, first for Hillary Clinton, then for Barack Obama.

She also has earned a considerable reputation for her fundraising prowess, another strong reason for President Obama securing her as the DNC chair.

Kaine, a very popular and successful Virginia governor before becoming DNC chair, was Obama's top choice to run for the Senate seat now held by Sen. Jim Webb who decided to leave after serving just one term.

With the well-known George Allen, the former Republican senator, announcing that he would be running for the seat held by Webb, it looked increasingly like Democrats could lose the Senate seat and with it perhaps their majority in that body.

Kaine's has been mulling a Senate run for weeks and it seemed increasingly likely that he would take the plunge.

His decision increases the Democrats' chances of holding on to the seat if the race comes down to Kaine versus Allen, who like Kaine is a former Virginia governor.

But first Allen has to win a Republican primary against Jamie Radtke a Tea Party movement-backed candidate.

Allen will likely still be haunted by the infamous incident which caused his 2006 re-election bid to implode when he referred to an Indian-American who was working as a Webb volunteer and videotaping Allen campaign events as "macaca", a term many found to be racially offensive.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.