Bernie Sanders certainly approved when Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down from her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee following the release of a large batch of emails revealing the committee’s bias against his presidential campaign.
But while it was necessary for Wasserman Schultz to leave her position at the DNC, for Sanders, it was not sufficient; he is now urgently calling on his supporters to help her primary opponent, Tim Canova, in the battle for her Florida congressional seat.
With the contest rapidly approaching, Sanders sent out an email to his supporters, calling on them to give a $3 donation to his campaign.
“Much like in our campaign for president, Tim started off as a major underdog in this race, battling a well-known and well-established person who was the chairwoman of the Democratic Party,” the email states.
“He is running a tough campaign on the kind of progressive platform we need to see in this country: opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, backing free tuition at public colleges and universities, reforming a corrupt campaign finance system and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Tim is on the side of working people and that’s why we need to help him win.”
The email briefly referenced Wasserman Schultz’s tenure as chair of the DNC, noting, “The recent emails leaked from Democratic Party staff showed that under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC staff were not exactly fair and even-minded during the presidential primary. What was revealed wasn’t much of a shock to us, because we knew all along that the establishment wasn’t on our side.”
Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Bernie Sanders urged his supporters to think beyond presidential politics, to vote down ballot, and to broaden their vision of democratic action. This effort to unseat Wasserman Schultz and to promote a more progressive voice is the latest evidence that he remains committed to supporting a meaningful ideological shift within the Democratic Party.
Canova’s campaign, as The American Prospect observes, mirrors that of Sanders in several ways.
“Since launching his primary challenge against Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the beginning of the year, law professor Tim Canova has built the most successful small-donor driven campaign in the country—that is, of course, except for Bernie Sanders. Of the roughly $2.3 million that Canova has raised so far, 76 percent has come from donors who have given less than $200. That’s a higher share than any other House or Senate candidate, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics.”
In the last several weeks, Canova has persistently critiqued Wasserman Schultz on a number of fronts, most recently what he views as her refusal to debate.
As The Hill reported on Monday, Canova has accused Wasserman Schultz of “dodging debates.”
Echoing the campaign of Bernie Sanders, Canova has also pointed to Wasserman Schultz’s coziness with corporate America, and he has recently accused her of violating campaign finance law, citing emails released by WikiLeaks. He has, as a result, filed an FEC complaint.
“It is now clear our opponent, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, improperly and illegally abused her position at the Democratic National Committee to coordinate against our campaign,” Canova’s campaign website states.
The Miami New Times reported on Monday that “Canova’s name turned up repeatedly in the DNC’s email leak. WikiLeaks’ email database showed that DNC staffers, who were not part of Wasserman Schultz’s campaign team, routinely kept tabs on Canova’s campaign, shared articles about him, and helped the congresswoman coordinate her fight against him.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has now seen Canova’s complaint, and a spokesperson for her campaign told the New Times, “There is no merit to this complaint.”
Canova is viewed as a long-shot to unseat Wasserman Schulz, but he believes that he is on the right side of the populist mood among the large swaths of the Democratic base that turned to the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
“The Democratic Party has lost its way. It has gone corporate and Wall Street on so many issues that it has unfortunately turned its back on its own grassroots base,” Canova said in an interview with In These Times.
“Our party must have a program that addresses the real needs of millions of people, including a genuine full-employment agenda: jobs for all, healthcare for all, educational opportunities for all. It’s not progressive if its not progress for all. And it’s not enough to promise this kind of fairness and social justice; the party must deliver when it’s rewarded with electoral success.”
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]