Is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in danger of losing her congressional seat to a challenge from her own left flank? Well… probably not. But after all the fire she’s taken for attempting to stack the primary deck in Hillary Clinton’s favor, headlines like these are likely one more thing she didn’t need. Down on Debbie’s home turf, one of her constituents became incensed after his attempts to engage his congresswoman on the Pacific trade deal were ignored. Tim Canova decided at that point that if he couldn’t get Wasserman-Schultz to do her job he would do it for her. (Tampa Bay Times)
Until this week, Canova’s long-shot campaign to unseat the Democratic National Committee chairwoman and six-term lawmaker had gone largely unnoticed. More than $557,000 in first-quarter campaign contributions changed the conversation about the primary in the Democratic-leaning congressional district.
Canova’s campaign mirrors that of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The New York transplant is declining corporate or PAC donations and wants to go to Washington to “save our democracy” by getting money out of politics. More than 18,000 donors, mostly from outside Florida, gave his campaign an average of $20.
Now the story of a ticked-off constituent challenging his congresswoman seems less improbable in an election year that has confounded conventional political wisdom.
It might be something of a stretch to begin comparing Canova to Bernie Sanders. Granted, pulling in more than half a million dollars for a congressional race in a single quarter is impressive for a relative political novice and the fact that he’s getting it all from small dollar donors at the grassroots level does carry a bit of that Feel The Bern flavor. But at the same time, that’s pretty much his entire message. Arguing against trade deals in that part of the country might not be the best approach and he would need to up his game considerably beyond this to have a shot at knocking off one of the party’s best known national figures.
Debbie Downer doesn’t seem to be terribly worried about it either. She’s sitting on considerably more money than Canova and raised even more than him in the same quarter. Assuming she even bothers to launch any sort of air war in response, she can pick up the phone and have money flood in from other Democratic leaders around the nation. Also, her district went for Hillary Clinton in the primary by a lopsided margin, so trying to emulate Bernie Sanders in a miniaturized version of the Democrats’ primary battle probably won’t bode well for him either.
This may portend tougher times in the future for the DNC Chair, though. She’s become the target of increasing criticism from the normally Democrat friendly press and even President Obama only reluctantly endorsed her. (They’ve had their own run-ins in the past.) The Democrats are experiencing their own moment of anti-establishment fever and Debbie is definitely the establishment. She’s not really very good on camera when trying to explain sticky issues either, so the clock may be ticking on her viability as a top level leader.
Anyway, best of luck to Mr. Canova. He’s going to need it.