By Ben Kamisar
President Obama is throwing his support behind Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who faces a primary challenge for her Florida seat for the first time since winning the seat in 2004.
The president announced his support in a statement released through the lawmaker's campaign on Monday morning that applauds Wasserman Schultz’s progressive chops — an implicit pushback at criticism from the man challenging her in the primary from the left.
“She always stands up and fights for what is right for her district while passionately supporting middle class families.”
Wasserman Schultz has irked some liberals, who argue that as chairwoman of the Democatic National Committee she has tipped the scales in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDoctor waited until last minute to write letter endorsing Trump’s health Latino Republicans split on Trump's outreach Kaine ties Trump to ‘Ku Klux Klan values’ MORE and against Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLatino Republicans split on Trump's outreach Teamsters endorse Clinton Sanders, Merkley back McConnell decision to skip TPP vote MORE (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primary fight.
The back-and-forth also caused some progressive groups to call for Wasserman Schultz to step down as the party’s chair.
Obama doesn’t typically make endorsements in many House primaries, so the decision to wade into this one is noteworthy.
In his statement, he praised Wasserman Schultz's “unwavering commitment to her family, her constituents, and our shared goals of protecting seniors, supporting working families, and expanding economic opportunity for more people.”
Tim Canova, who is challenging Wasserman Schultz, has backed Sanders’s presidential campaign and was endorsed by the National Nurses United super-PAC, the group that has already spent more than $1 million to help Sanders.
Wasserman Schultz’s district leans Democratic so she’s unlikely to face a serious general election challenge.