While President Barack Obama won’t tell us who he will be supporting in the general election, one candidate he has fully endorsed is Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Wasserman Schultz is currently running for her life in Florida against the first Democratic congressional opponent she has faced during her time in the House. Opponent Tim Canova is running on the idea that Wasserman Schultz is far too corrupt and indebted to Wall Street to effectively represent the people of her district. Canova has endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders and has been backed by some of the same groups that Sanders is.
President Obama does not often endorse candidates in House primaries, so his support for Wasserman Schultz is telling.
Interestingly enough, this came shortly after the Florida Democratic Party was shamed into providing voter lists to Mr. Canova:
Last week, the Florida Democratic Party — and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — took some serious heat after it banned upstart congressional candidate Tim Canova from using the party’s voter data files, which help candidates research and contact supporters. But the Florida Democratic Party reversed its decision yesterday, party spokesperson Max Steele has confirmed to New Times.
Improbably, this was the second voter-data scandal to ensnare Wasserman Schultz this election cycle. In December, Wasserman Schultz, acting as chair of the Democratic National Committee, temporarily banned Bernie Sanders from accessing the DNC’s voter data files after his campaign staffer was caught hacking into Hillary Clinton’s campaign data. (The information allows candidates to research and contact potential supporters in their area.) But the move backfired, and Wasserman Schultz has since been accused of intentionally trying to sink Sanders’ chances at the presidency. Sanders sued, the move was overturned, and critics across the country have called for her ouster. She’s had a bad few months.
In something of a twist, Canova, who once advised Sanders on Wall Street reform, then said he had also been denied access to that very same data. This was due to a Florida Democratic Party rule, instituted in 2010, which bans candidates running against incumbents from using the information. In an interview, Canova called the rule “undemocratic” and said the party was acting to protect Wasserman Schultz.
The party did not offer data access “to candidates challenging incumbent members of Florida’s Democratic congressional delegation,” Steele told New Times earlier this month. “This policy has been applied uniformly across the board since 2010. We stand with our incumbent members of Congress, and we’re proud of the job they do representing the people of Florida. The Voter File is proprietary software created and owned by the Democratic National Committee that is maintained and operated by the Florida Democratic Party here in state.”
After Canova put up a fight, the Florida Democratic Party reconsidered how Canova’s case looked to the outside world, Steele says. The party made the choice today to give Canova, and only Canova, access to the file.
“Given the unique circumstances of having an incumbent member of Congress who is also the DNC chair who is being challenged by a Democrat (a situation that as you can imagine has never arisen), the FDP has decided to grant Mr. Canova access to the Voter File,” Steele said via email. The file will cost $3,500 to access.
Steele reiterated that this will be a one-time policy change: “Given the dual nature of an incumbent who is also a national party chair, we’ve decided to grant Mr. Canova access to avoid any appearance of favoritism,” he said. Other candidates who run against incumbents will be out of luck.
As an aside, they would not have done this, or at least not have done this so soon, unless there was a significant amount of loathing directed towards Wasserman Schultz in the state party.
Considering her refusal to support challenges to reactionary Cuban-American Republicans in competitive districts, I rather expect that there is no small amount of loathing among the locals there.