Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz talks to a reporter in the spin room before the third Democratic presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Dec. 19. Some Democrats are now privately discussing whether she needs to be replaced prior to the party's convention in July because of what some see as her divisive posture toward Bernie Sanders. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 25 (UPI) -- Amid rising tensions in the Democratic Party, multiple media outlets are reporting informal discussions have begun about whether to sack Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Tensions has simmered for months between Wasserman Schultz and the insurgent campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Sanders campaign has charged that Wasserman Schultz has given preferential treatment to front-runner Hillary Clinton at several key points in the campaign, including when drafting the debate schedule and through a lucrative joint fundraising operation the DNC shares with Clinton.
The biggest flare-up came just last week, when Wasserman Schultz blasted Sanders for failing to more aggressively condemn supporters who upended the Nevada Democratic Convention, sparking violent protests inside the convention hall and issuing death threats against the state party chairwoman. Sanders condemned the violence but refused to apologize for his supporters, saying the state party treated them unfairly.
She called Sanders' response "anything but acceptable" and likened his supporters to those of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The Hill first reported on anonymous sources among Democrats in Congress who have said Wasserman Schultz should be fired as DNC chair because she has become too polarizing at a moment when party unity is an important goal headed into the general election.
"I don't see how she can continue to the election. How can she open the convention? Sanders supporters would go nuts," said one pro-Clinton senator, who The Hill said requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
CNN cited another anonymous source within the party, who agreed that replacing Wasserman Schultz with a figure more palatable to Sanders' liberal base would send a signal the party brass are interested in bringing them into the fold for the general election.
"There is a lot of sentiment that replacing her would be a good idea. It is being discussed quietly among Democratic senators on the floor, in the cloakroom and in lunches," the source told CNN.
A slew of senators and other party leaders have spoken out publicly in support of Wasserman Schultz, whom President Barack Obama picked to lead the party prior to his re-election campaign in 2011.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving female senator, backed Wasserman Schultz, whom she said has made accommodations for the Sanders campaign, should Clinton win the nomination.
"I think Debbie Wasserman Schultz has done a good job. If you look at her platform committee appointments, she really gave a lot of room to Bernie supporters," Mikulski said.
She was referencing a deal struck between the DNC and the two campaigns about seats on the platform committee at the convention in Philadelphia. Under DNC rules, Wasserman Schultz could have appointed all 15 members, and after hearing suggestions from both campaigns, put forward a list of names the Sanders campaign said was too pro-Clinton.
The campaigns then struck a bargain with the DNC, allowing Clinton to pick six members, Sanders five and the DNC four.
Other party leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a string of Democratic senators who have endorsed Clinton expressed public support for Wasserman Schultz.
The lone Democratic senator to endorse Sanders, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, was asked whether Wasserman Schultz should keep her job. He pointed to the Nevada flare-up as a bad moment for the chairwoman, whose job is to unite the party. As to whether she needs to go, Merkely told The Hill, "I'll leave that to others."