With chances growing that New York’s Democratic primary could count after all as part of the wider nomination fight, the chairwoman of the party’s national committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is due to appear in Long Beach less than a month before the balloting.
Wasserman Schultz, 49, who was born in Forest Hills and grew up in Melville near a farm, returns to her native turf March 20 when the Long Beach Democratic Club holds its annual dinner dance at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park.
“She often speaks fondly of her upbringing on Long Island and the progressive values her parents and community instilled in her from a young age,” spokesman Sean Bartlett said Friday, “and is excited to return to her old stomping grounds.”
As chairwoman since 2011 — an unusually long tenure — she has her share of critics not only in conservative circles but also inside her party. Months ago, supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who since withdrew as a candidate, interpreted her limiting debates as helping Hillary Clinton. More recently she has been called on to explain and defend the system of delegate selection. Wasserman Schultz, who has served in Congress since 2005, was a Clinton ally in the 2008 race.
That said, the dinner plans look more significant through a local rather than national lens. Some mark it as the first fete of its kind since last fall’s turnover of the Long Beach party committee amid a rift between the city’s then leader Michael Zapson and county chairman Jay Jacobs (who recently led Long Island volunteers to New Hampshire for Clinton in that primary). Robert H. Solomon, the Long Beach club’s chairman, tops the invitation, which touts Wasserman Schultz as keynote speaker and District Attorney Madeline Singas and Assemb. Todd Kaminsky as honorees.
Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) faces Republican lawyer Chris McGrath in a special election April 19 for the State Senate seat vacated by convicted ex-GOP majority leader Dean Skelos. That’s the day both major parties hold their New York presidential primaries.
The chairwoman’s spokesman Bartlett said she “looks forward to recognizing the local party’s efforts to elect and support Democrats on Long Island, because local and state parties are vital components of the national party’s strength.”