Deborah Wasserman Schultz was born September 27, 1966 in Queens, New York, and was raised on Long Island. She received a BA degree in 1988 and an MA in 1990, both in political science, from the University of Florida. From 1989-92 Schultz worked as an aide to U.S. Congressman Peter Deutsch, who represented Florida’s heavily Democratic 20th Congressional District and became a mentor to the young woman.
From 1992-2000, Schultz served in the Florida State House of Representatives. During that period, she was also an adjunct instructor of political science at Broward Community College, and a public-policy curriculum specialist at Nova Southeastern University. In 2001 Schultz was elected to the Florida State Senate, where she served until 2004. When Peter Deutsch in 2004 gave up his Congressional seat in order to make a bid (unsuccessfully) for the U.S. Senate, Schultz ran for, and won, Deutch’s vacated seat in the House of Representatives. Since then, Schultz has been reelected to Congress every two years.
Beginning in 2007, Schultz was a national co-chair for Senator Hillary Clinton‘s campaign for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination. When Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee in mid-2008, Schultz enthusiastically endorsed him; she later seconded his nomination at the Democratic National Convention.
In May 2009, Schultz co-hosted a J Street event on Capitol Hill, praising that organization for its “worthy goals” and its efforts to “advance the interests of Israel.” Five months later, she addressed a closed-door VIP reception at a J Street gala event in Washington, DC.
On April 5, 2011, President Obama selected Schultz to succeed Tim Kaine as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
In a June 5, 2011 interview with CNN, Schultz was asked about Republican calls for measures requiring photo identification at polling places, to cut down on voter fraud. Portraying the proposal as “very similar to a poll tax” designed to “thro[w] a barrier in the way of someone who’s trying to exercise their right to vote,” Schultz accused Republicans of wanting “to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally—and very transparently—block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates.” When reporters subsequently asked Schultz to elaborate on the “Jim Crow” reference, she angrily denied ever having said it, despite video evidence of the comment.
In March 2012, Schultz cancelled a keynote speech she was scheduled to deliver at an April 21 fundraising banquet for a Florida-based organization known as EMERGE USA. The cancellation came shortly after a number of media sources had reported on that organization’s radical Islamist ties. Schultz’s spokesman subsequently claimed that the congresswoman had never actually agreed to appear at the event. EMERGE USA’s vice chairman, however, said that Schultz had indeed “agreed to speak at the banquet,” only to change her mind following the negative publicity.
A former board member of two Planned Parenthood chapters, Schultz has frequently criticized Republicans for seeking to end taxpayer funding for that organization, and for opposing the notion that all employers, including religious institutions, should be required to provide their workers with health insurance plans that cover contraception and abortion services. At various times in 2012, Schultz accused the Republican Party of being “callous and insensitive … towards women’s priorities”; promoting “extreme policies” that would “tur[n] back the clock for women”; and waging a veritable “war on women.”
In August 2012, Schultz described Republican criticisms of President Obama’s welfare policy as part of a “shockingly transparent” appeal to white racism—“a dog whistle for voters who consider race when casting their ballot.”
On September 4, 2012, Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner reported that Schultz, at a recent training session “aimed at teaching Jewish Democrats how to convince their fellow Jews to vote for Obama,” had said: “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.” When a Fox News reporter later questioned her about the quote, Schultz, accusing “a conservative newspaper” of having “deliberately misquote[d]” her, replied: “I didn’t say he [Oren] said that.” But Philip Klein subsequently released an audio recording which proved that the congresswoman had in fact said exactly what Klein had quoted her as saying. Ambassador Oren, for his part, said: “I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel.”
When she was sworn in on January 4, 2005, Schultz chose to place her right hand on the Tanakh rather than the Bible.
 At that point, Schultz said: “Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use, but I don’t regret calling attention to the efforts in a number of states with Republican dominated legislatures … to restrict access to the ballot box for all kinds of voters, but particularly young voters, African Americans and Hispanic Americans.”