Bernie Sanders Urges His Followers to Take Down Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Update 11:45 a.m.: Canova's campaign says it's taken in $250,000 since Sanders email on Sunday.
Bernie Sanders' war to take down Hillary Clinton looks close to sputtering out. But that doesn't mean the Vermont insurgent is done trying to reshape the Democratic Party.
Sanders is now asking his considerable grassroots support to aim its ire at a South Florida target: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman whom Sanders backers have long raged against for allegedly blocking his path toward the nomination.
Yesterday the Vermont senator for the first time asked his supporters to give cash to Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern law professor challenging Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary.
"We’re doing this because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics," reads an email blast from Sanders' campaign. "We need real change. We need U.S. senators, members of Congress, and state legislators who have the guts to take on the big-money interests whose greed is destroying the American middle class."
Wasserman Schultz already faced a stiff challenge from Canova thanks in part to cash pouring in from small-money donors feeling the Bern. Canova had raised nearly $600,000 this year as of his last campaign reports.
Much of that cash came from grassroots Bernie backers already upset with DWS over her role as DNC chairwoman; many accused her of stacking the primary rules to make it more difficult for Sanders to knock off Hillary Clinton. Wasserman Schultz took more heat from the left wing over her backing of the payday loan industry.
And now with Sanders' full-on endorsement of Canova, that pressure will only heat up. Sanders' campaign has cast Canova as a local equivalent of their would-be revolution.
"On issues like taking on Wall Street, making tuition free at public colleges, and reforming our broken campaign finance system, he is someone you can be proud to support," the campaign's email says. "That's why Bernie is endorsing Tim's campaign."
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Of course, there's also a good argument that targeting so much left-wing ire at DWS is a poor long-term strategy. As New Times argued last month, the national liberal anger at Wasserman Schultz isn't reflected in her home territory, where Clinton won a staggering 72 percent of the primary vote. Even with all of that national cash flowing in, Canova is still a long shot to unseat her.
And amid the fight to replace Marco Rubio, the looming battle over medical marijuana, and the realistic chance to recapture Florida's state Senate by the Democrats, pouring so much progressive cash and energy into taking down Wasserman Schultz is an odd choice at best.
But expect more cash then ever to head Tim Canova's way after Sanders' direct appeal.
Update 11:45 a.m.: Bernie backers responded in a big way to his email appeal, Canova's campaign says. Here are the fundraising totals since his appeal, via the campaign:
— More than $225,000 was raised from the fundraising email sent by the Sanders campaign.
— An additional $65,000 has been raised in small dollar contributions since Sunday morning.
— The average contribution during the weekend was just $17.63.
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