Both U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her primary challenger Tim Canova will be at the Florida Leadership Blue Gala Saturday in Hollywood.
Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, will speak at the event where New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is the keynote speaker. The event is a chance for Canova, a Hollywood resident and Nova Southeastern University law professor, to spread his message among party activists.
This is the first time Wasserman Schultz of Weston has faced a primary challenge since she first won the seat since 2004. They are competing in a liberal district that largely lies in Broward and dips into northern Miami-Dade County.
Here are four key things we don’t know about the Debbie Wasserman Schultz vs Tim Canova primary:
1. What the polls show
There have been no public polls or internal polls released so far. A poll in the district would answer questions about Canova’s name recognition and if Wasserman Schultz is vulnerable on any particular issues -- such as her position in favor of the Iran deal -- or with any segment of the Democratic primary electorate.
2. How much local voters care about Wasserman Schultz’s woes as DNC chair
The main thing that Wasserman Schultz has taken hits for in the media for months is her leadership of the Democratic National Committee. Bernie Sanders and his supporters have slammed her for months, calling for her ouster and accusing her of favoring Hillary Clinton, which she denies. But district voters may care more about her positions on issues such as favoring abortion and gay rights, equal pay for women and her record fighting Republicans than they do about her party leadership. Plus, her district voted for Clinton over Sanders 68-31 percent in the March 15th primary so the criticism by the Sanders’ folks may not mean much.
3. What Wasserman Schultz’s stance on medical marijuana will mean for the race
Wasserman Schultz opposed the medical marijuana amendment in 2014 which was supported by 58 percent of Florida voters, two points shy of the threshold to amend the state constitution. Her opposition angered Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan who funded the amendment last time and again for this year. Morgan has threatened to form a PAC in an effort to defeat Wasserman Schultz but he told the Herald he is waiting for a poll to emerge before making a decision about investing in the race (see no. 1 above). Wasserman Schultz has said she is “evaluating” the 2016 amendment but she could avoid taking a stance until after the Aug. 30th primary since the amendment is on the November ballot. Although many Broward voters disagree with her opposition to the 2014 amendment, will they punish her for that?
4. How many of Canova’s donors live in the district
Canova’s $2 million fundraising haul between January and mid-June is impressive for a first-time candidate. A good portion of that was fueled by Sanders saying on national TV in May that he is backing Canova. But it’s unclear how much of that money comes from voters who live in the district. A Center for Responsive Politics analysis of Canova’s donations through March -- so based on about one-quarter of his haul now -- showed that the majority of his donations over $200 came from outside of Florida. But the vast majority of his donations come from small donations and campaigns don’t have to report where those donors live. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about out of district donations and money is money when it comes to funding ads on TV, print, radio and mailers. But it means we don’t know how many of these donors can vote for Canova Aug. 30.