One is “unhinged;” the other is “not a lady.” The long-running feud between Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Allen West — both outspoken Florida House members adored by loyalists within their respective parties — shows no sign of cooling down.
Wasserman Schultz, who is also chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, appeared Saturday night at a local Democratic annual dinner, where she touted West’s likely Democratic opponent, businessman Patrick Murphy.
“Patrick Murphy will send the unhinged, McCarthy-esque West and his extremist views back home wherever that is where he belongs,” Wasserman Schultz declared, the Miami Herald reports.
Wasserman Schultz’s reference to West’s “McCarthy-esque” tendencies likely stem from his declaration earlier this year that members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are communists.
But it’s been a two-way street, well traveled by both Wasserman Schultz an West — the latter of whom has often escalated political attacks into personal ones.
In 2010, before Wasserman Schultz ascended to the DNC chairmanship, she led a protest outside one of West’s campaign offices, accusing him of disrespecting women, a charge tied to his having written an article for a raunchy biker magazine.
West appears to have taken the protest, and Wasserman Schultz’s other political attacks over time, personally. In July 2011, Wasserman Schultz singled out West from the House floor, over his vote for the Paul Ryan plan to privatize Medicare: “The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries — unbelievable from a member from South Florida.”
That triggered a reprisal from West, who had just left the House floor shortly before Wasserman Schultz spoke. He wrote her an angry letter in response — in which he told her, “you are not a Lady”:
I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.
You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
Wasserman Schultz fired back during an appearance on MSNBC. “So it’s not really surprising that he would crack under the pressure of having to defend that,” she said.
The two have also sparred over West’s residency, an issue Wasserman Schultz alluded to in her latest shot at West when she said, “his extremist views back home wherever that is.”
When West was elected in to the 22nd District in 2010, he was actually living in Wasserman Schultz’s 20th District, which is solidly Democratic.
“He actually lives in my district, yes,” said Wasserman Schultz on MSNBC, after the “not a lady” debacle. “As a constituent of mine, I think it’s important for him to understand that when we’re in debate on the House floor, members are gonna go back and forth.”
In an ironic twist, redistricting moved West’s home town of Plantation into the 22nd District — but the district also took on a huge bloc of Democratic voters, prompting West to move this year to yet another nearby district, where he has a better shot of keeping his job.