Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is facing a serious and well-funded challenge for her congressional seat in Florida and recent behavior suggests she’s feeling the heat.
Take her appearance yesterday on MSNBC. Mediaite points out that host Steve Kornacki couldn’t even get the DNC Chair to commit to a debate with her upstart challenger, Tim Canova:
Watch the video above. When the MSNBC host raises the issue of her challenger and the money he’s been able to raise, you can see Wasserman-Schultz’ physical reaction. She slowly closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and sighs showing an obvious perturbed annoyance at the line of questioning.
When Kornacki pressed her on whether she would debate Canova she deflected saying she was “here speak to you as the DNC chair… I’ve answered your questions.”
“You haven’t,” Kornacki pressed. “Hold on now, you haven’t answered this one question. You’re a candidate for reelection, I think it’s a legitimate question. Will you debate your opponent in your race for reelection?”
Her response was regurgitation of the same talking point she had already repeated several times:
“Again, Steve, Steve, again. I’m going to focus on representing my constituents to the best of my ability, doing the good job that I’ve been able to do representing them for the last 24 years. And making sure that when I run for reelection they know the work that I’ve been able to do in earning their support once again. And making sure, as DNC Chair, I help do everything we can to elect Democratic president. Those are my two responsibilities.”
This is not the behavior of a confident incumbent. Wasserman-Schultz looked and sounded like she is running scared.
And, according to a Politico profile on Canova, she may have good reason to be looking over her shoulder:
Fueled by small-dollar donors who give to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Canova said that, by the weekend, he’ll be on pace to have raised $1 million since he officially entered the race Jan. 7.
The source of the money is a point of pride for Canova, who was criticized last month by Wasserman Schultz for getting out-of-state donations.
“We have more donations in the State of Florida than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This is a reflection that our progressive message is spreading here in South Florida,” Canova, who first announced his cash haul on WPLG Local 10 in Miami, told POLITICO Florida via email late Tuesday.
The congressional primary in Florida is late in the election schedule. It’s on August 30th, so Canova has plenty of time to raise more money and to continue to dog Wasserman-Schultz with demands for a debate. How long can she hold out? Well, if her ability to fudge the debate schedule int he DNC primaries is any indication, she’ll do whatever she can to avoid being on the stage with her challenger.
And that’s probably a wise move. She might get a tough debate question like, “What’s the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?”