June 17, 2016

What we don't know about the Debbie Wasserman Schultz vs Tim Canova primary

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.

June 16, 2016

Tim Canova raises $2 million in race against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Broward Congressional race

Tim Canova has raised more than $2 million in his Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston.

He has raised $2,054,332.57 since he launched his campaign in January. Canova's campaign said that he raised money from 58,421 individual donors and the average contribution was $17.16.

His campaign did not release information on what percentage of those donations have come from outside of Florida. An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of his donations above $200 through March found that the majority were from out of state, however that provides an incomplete picture because most of his donations are below that threshold and therefore the campaign doesn't have to report where the donors live.

Wasserman Schultz raised $1.8 million through March and hasn't announced an update on her fundraising. She has been endorsed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was going to host a fundraiser for her last weekend but it was cancelled due to the Orlando shooting massacre.

Canova and Wasserman Schultz are competing in the left-leaning District 23 which mostly lies in Broward County and includes part of northern Miami-Dade. The primary is Aug. 30.

Canova, a Hollywood resident, said in a press release: “People all over Florida and all over our district are supporting our campaign for change. They have had enough of a political system that is awash in corporate money and corporate influence. We all have an interest in a decent jobs market, affordable prescription drug prices and health care, educational opportunities, and safe and healthy communities.  Wasserman Schultz’s corporate donors are often standing in the way of progress for all.” 

Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor, got a big boost to his fundraising when Bernie Sanders announced in May that he is supporting Canova. Sanders named Canova to a committee about financial reform in 2011. Sanders has been critical of Wasserman Schultz's leadership of the Democratic National Committee where he says she has favored Hillary Clinton, a charge she has denied. Sanders wants Wasserman Schultz ousted from the DNC. 

The Clinton campaign installed a general election chief of staff of the DNC Thursday: Brandon Davis, who was formerly the political director of the Service Employees International Union. It's common practice for the presumptive party nominee to take the reins at the DNC. Wasserman Schultz welcomed Davis at party headquarters Thursday morning, CNN reported.

This post has been updated to correct the title of Davis.


June 12, 2016

Joe Biden fundraiser for Debbie Wasserman Schultz cancelled

Vice President Joe Biden's fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been cancelled due to the shooting at the Orlando nightclub.

Biden had planned to fundraise at Stephen Bittel's home in Coconut Grove Sunday night. Wasserman Schultz spoke at a vigil at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors Sunday and then will participate in a vigil in Miami Beach. 

Wasserman Schultz is running in a Democratic primary against Tim Canova in a Broward/Miami-Dade district.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson on the Orlando shooting

Here is what some Florida politicians are saying about the Orlando shooting:

Sen. Marco Rubio:

“I am devastated by this heartbreaking act of terrorism in Orlando. Jeanette and I join all Floridians and all Americans in grieving for those who lost their lives and praying for those who were injured in this senseless act of hatred, violence and terror. I want to thank the heroic police officers and first responders who prevented further loss of life, including the officer at the nightclub who first engaged the shooter. I would also like to encourage anyone living in Central Florida to donate blood to help the injured. As local, state and federal authorities investigate the perpetrator of this attack, my Senate office and I stand ready to assist - both by making sure the full weight of the federal government is used to hold anyone responsible for this incident to account, and also with any constituent service needs that arise for the impacted families. Confronting the threat of violent homegrown ‎radicalization is one of the greatest counterterrorism challenges our law enforcement and intelligence community faces. ‎We must do more at every level of government and within our own communities to identify and mitigate this cancer on our free society and prevent further loss of innocent life.”

Sen. Bill Nelson:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all the victims of this horrific attack in Orlando. I have spoken with the FBI and there appears to be a link to Islamic radicalism. I have conferred with additional sources and they think there is likely a connection with ISIS. So as we all mourn the senseless loss of life and investigators continue to learn more, we must remain vigilant and remember that if you see something, say something.”


June 10, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden fundraising for Debbie Wasserman Schultz this weekend

Biden Meeting Jewish DS

Vice President Joe Biden will be in South Florida this weekend fundraising for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Stephen Bittel, a developer who lives in Coconut Grove, is hosting the event at 6 p.m. Sunday. (See our May blog about the fundraiser.)

It doesn't appear that Biden will hold any public events.

As a contrast to her big-dollar fundraiser with Biden, Wasserman Schultz is hosting a free barbeque at the Old Davie Schoolhouse in Davie at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Her primary opponent, Tim Canova, has focused on small, online donations much like Bernie Sanders who supports Canova rather than big-ticket fundraisers. Canova has raised nearly $2 million in his first campaign which he launched in January. Wasserman Schultz raised $1.8 million through March and hasn't provided an update. They are competing for a Broward/Miami-Dade district. 

The primary is Aug. 30.

(Miami Herald photo of Wasserman Schultz and Biden at the Jewish Community Center in September speaking about the Iran nuclear deal. This blog was updated to include the date of the event)

June 09, 2016

White House asked about Debbie Wasserman Schultz today

In a White House briefing today, spokesman Josh Earnest faced a question about President Barack Obama's position on U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's leadership of the Democratic National Committee.

QUESTION: Does the president have confidence in Debbie Wasserman Schultz to maintain her position through the end of this cycle?
EARNEST: Well, James, the president was in south Florida at the end of last week, and he talked about her service as the chair of the Democratic National Committee. But  the president appointed her to be the chair of the DNC during his first term, which means that part of her legacy at the DNC is having built a Democratic campaign apparatus that succeeded in reelecting the first African-American president of the United States. President Obama is, of course, the first president since Eisenhower to be elected and reelected with more than 50 percent of the vote. And certainly the DNC, and the structure that was built and financed through Debbie Wasserman Schultz's efforts can take some credit for that, she should. So, the president made clear that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has always had his back and he's always going to have hers. And the president announced his support for her reelection campaign, and he certainly is appreciative of all the important work that she has done at the DNC.

Obama praised Wasserman Schultz at a DNC fundraiser in Miami earlier this month. Vice President Joe Biden comes to Coconut Grove this weekend to fundraiser for her.

Wasserman Schultz is facing Democratic opponent Tim Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor who has raised nearly $2 million. He has focused on online, small-dollar donations similar to his biggest-name supporter: Bernie Sanders.

Did Tim Canova help draft part of Dodd-Frank?

Tim Canova, who is in a Democratic primary battle with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, says he pushed to crack down on the financial services industry even before the financial collapse. And, he says he played a role in the 2010 financial reform bill.

Canova, a law professor and first-time candidate, said in a June 1 Medium post he "helped to draft parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments."

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., co-author of the reform bill, expressed some skepticism that Canova played a role.

"He does seem to be denigrating the financial reform bill, of which I was a co-sponsor, while simultaneously claiming credit for having written it," Frank said at a press conference for Wasserman Schultz in Broward May 31.

We decided to fact-check Canova’s role in helping to draft part of Dodd-Frank. Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

June 08, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets Broward firefighters endorsement

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has been endorsed by the Broward County Council of Professional Firefighters.

Wasserman Schultz is running in a primary against first-time candidate Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor. Canova was endorsed today by the Pipefitters union. They are competing in a Broward/Miami-Dade Congressional District 23.

Vice President Joe Biden will fundraise for Wasserman Schultz this weekend in Coconut Grove.


Broward congressional candidate Tim Canova gets additional labor endorsement

Tim Canova will be endorsed by the Piperfitters Union Local 725 today at noon at his Hollywood headquarters.

Canova's previous labor endorsements include the Communication Workers of America and National Nurses United.

Canova is running in a Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. Most of left-leaning Congressional District 23 is in Broward while a slice of it is in northern Miami-Dade.

The race has drawn considerable national attention. Both candidates have big names on their side: Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, has been endorsed by President Barack Obama while Canova was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Canova has raised close to $2 million. Wasserman Schultz raised $1.8 million through March but hasn't provided a more recent update yet. Campaign finance reports are next due July 15.

Check out Wasserman Schultz's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact Florida and Canova's Truth-O-Meter record.


June 03, 2016

In Miami, Obama praises Wasserman Schultz


President Barack Obama gave a shout-out in Miami on Friday to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who faces a contested primary election.

Wasserman Schultz is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, which hosted Obama for a fundraiser at the Coconut Grove home of attorney Robert Rubenstein. Her opponent, Tim Canova, has been endorsed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Obama described Wasserman Schultz as "somebody who I don't know how she does it, because she's everywhere all the time, non-stop, and she's a mom and a wife and has been just incredibly supportive of my agenda."

"She's taken tough votes when they're the right thing to do, and she's somebody who I have counted on consistently," Obama said. "She's had my back. I want to make sure we have her back."

The about 90 donors gathered at the dinner gave her a standing ovation.

Obama also gave shout-outs to several other attendees, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now running for Congress in St. Petersbur ("a great friend," Obama said). And he praised a candidate who wasn't there: U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. Earlier Friday, Obama attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser for Murphy on Miami Beach.

"I think he's going to be outstanding in the United States Senate," Obama said.

Photo credit: Andrew Harnik, Associated Press