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Wasserman Schultz to chair Democratic National Committee

From Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh, CNN
  • NEW: Wasserman Schultz says Obama's re-election is a top priority
  • Sources say Wasserman Schultz also will remain in Congress
  • The Florida legislator will succeed Tim Kaine, who is running for Senate
  • She will be the third women to chair the DNC

Washington (CNN) -- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said Tuesday that she is President Barack Obama's choice to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.

If approved by the DNC as expected, Wasserman Schultz will succeed Tim Kaine, who announced earlier Tuesday he is running for the U.S. Senate.

"The DNC shares my core mission to help Democrats succeed -- electorally and legislatively -- so that we are able to deliver on and win the future for the American people," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement, adding that "there will be nothing more important to our party or to the American people than advancing President Obama's agenda and ensuring that he is elected to a second term."

Wasserman Schultz, 44, is a breast cancer survivor who was first elected to the House in 2004. Two Democratic sources told CNN that Wasserman Schultz would continue to serve in the House while also chairing the DNC.

Two women have previously chaired the DNC -- Jean Westwood in 1972 and Debra DeLee in 1994-95.

An e-mail Tuesday from Vice President Joe Biden to Democratic supporters said Obama chose Wasserman Schultz because of "her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit, and her ability to overcome adversity."

"President Obama expressed great admiration for her as a leader, and he was honored that she accepted this important challenge on behalf of the Democratic Party," Biden's message said.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, congratulated Wasserman Schultz and called her "a tireless advocate for Democrats and a role model for women."

"President Obama has chosen a battle-tested leader, great communicator, and outstanding fundraiser who will help Democrats win the tough fights ahead," Israel said in a statement, later adding: "I look forward to working with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and President Obama to win in 2012 and continue addressing the challenges facing our nation."

Kaine ended weeks of speculation by announcing that he will seek the Virginia Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.

From CNN's Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh