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Mitch Perry, Creative Loafing
Since being selected to chair the Democratic National Committee a few years ago, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has received her share of criticism from certain parts of the party. In Tampa, for instance, her rigidity in aligning herself with the anti-Castro exile community in Miami has been a turn-off, as her House colleague Kathy Castor and now likely gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist have called for an end to the five-decades-long economic sanctions.
What's causing Hillsborough County Democrat Chris Cano to speak out, however, was her vote a few weeks ago regarding a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations, in which the South Florida Representative was one of the few Democrats in opposition (It passed on a 219-189 vote in the House). That was before she came out against Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative that raised the ire of one of its leading advocates, Orlando attorney John Morgan.
"I'm not the only one in my party who doesn't think that she's not fit to be party leader based on her stances on her political alliances," Cano told CL on Wednesday. "Maybe she might have been a good pick at the time, but based on her actions over the past couple of years and what she's done, she's just not fit to lead the Democratic Party."
Cano has created a petition on the White House's website calling for her dismissal.
Susan Smith, the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus within the Florida Democratic Party, doesn't agree with Cano's take. She says he certainly has the right to attack her as a member of Congress for her voting record, but think the biggest problem is that the Democrats have a member of Congress as their chair (Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee Chairman, devotes all his public energies to leading the GOP).
Wasserman Schultz's vote against against cutting DEA funds on medical marijuana raids is upsetting a few folks.
Reuters reports that Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is vowing to run ads until the November congressional elections against lawmakers who vote against pro-medical marijuana legislation — including DWS.
“I know personally the most powerful players in Washington DC. And I can tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked. She’s despised. She’s an irritant,” John Morgan told the Miami Herald late last week.
On Monday, Tampa Democrat Alan Clendenin also appeared to be indicating his displeasure with the Chairwoman when he wrote, "It confounds me to see there are still some that would deprive their family members and friends suffering from debilitating disease appropriate medical care recommended by their physician. I find it outrageous that some Washington politicians believe they are better equipped to make health care decisions. I find it shameful there are some that would label a critically ill patient a criminal and subject them to fines or even prison."
Cano is disdainful of Wasserman Schultz's alliance with Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in being a hawk on the Raoul Castro-led Cuban government. "I would expect someone who wants to raise the progressive flag to be progressive on that issue, but instead she has the same stance as Marco Rubio has," he says.
Cano says he hopes to get 100,000 signatures on the petition to oust Wasserman Schultz by July 4, but he's realistic to know that such a move probably wouldn't happen with a major Congressional election scheduled this fall. And he's got a ways to go on that gaudy number anyway, as there are less than two dozen people who have apparently signed the petition so far.