I’ve long wondered something about full-time politicians who take on jobs outside of the job they were elected to do.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Well, she’s my latest example.
Schultz is a Democratic member of Congress who represents southern Florida. She also is chair of the Democratic National Committee.
She’s certainly not the first full-time pol to assume duties unrelated to her congressional work. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole once represented Kansas while serving as chair of the Republican National Committee. Interestingly, he resigned his Senate seat when the GOP nominated him to run for president in 1996; he said he couldn’t do both things at the same time, so he decided to set aside his Senate duties.
Schultz doesn’t do that. No, she runs the Democratic Party while serving her constituents in south Florida.
How well does she do either job, or both?
This issue of running for a higher office while holding down an elected job already has come up during the 2016 presidential campaign. GOP contender Marco Rubio has been criticized for missing many Senate votes while stumping for his party’s nomination. New Jersey Democrats made noise about seeking Gov. Chris Christie’s ouster after Christie declared he wanted to be the Republican nominee this year.
Other members of Congress are seeking the presidency this year. To my knowledge there’s been little said about how well they’re doing their current job while they seek to be elected to another one.
Schultz was re-elected in 2014 by a wide margin, so I guess her constituents think she’s doing all right.
It’s fair to wonder though: How does she deal with purely local issues? How much attention do her constituents get from her — or her staff — when they have concerns about their Social Security or military pension checks?
Schultz has a big job running a major political party. She also has a big job representing her constituents on Capitol Hill; the latter job also pays her $175,000 annually, plus all the ancillary perks she and her colleagues get while serving in Congress.
I occasionally wonder whether politicians who hold down full-time government jobs can do those jobs adequately when other matters divert their attention from the duties they were elected to perform.