Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Tough Primary Race Just Got Tougher

Last week, outrage over her party’s machinations against Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary race cost Jewish Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz her seat as chair of the Democratic National Committee. Now, along with the specter of the Iran deal, it may be coming after her seat in the House.

A new poll released by Wasserman Schultz’s primary opponent Tim Canova from polling firm FM3 shows Wasserman Schultz in the lead by eight points. However, after learning more information about Canova, who leans to the left of Wasserman Schultz on most issues and was endorsed by Sanders, the gap fell to just three points.

The leak of nearly 20,000 hacked DNC emails two weeks ago confirmed for many Sanders supporters their suspicions that Wasserman Schultz and the party were working to undermine Sanders’ campaign. Some emails revealed that the party had a general bias in favor of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and in several instances it had discussed strategies to weaken Sanders’ campaign.

Some Florida Democrats have publicly expressed their anger at Wasserman Schultz. When she tried to address Florida party delegates at the start of the Democratic National Convention last week, she was booed off the stage.

Primary opponent Canova said last week that he would be filing a complaint against Wasserman Schultz with the Federal Election Commission, claiming that the leaked emails also show she used party resources to help her campaign in violation of federal law.

“The Wikileaks emails indicate that Debbie Wasserman Schultz used DNC resources to assist her reelection campaign in violation of federal law. According to the emails, top DNC officials used party resources to monitor, respond to, and impede my campaign on numerous occasions,” Canova told Reuters in a statement.

However, while Canova may channel the leftist sentiments that brought Sanders more than half a million votes in the Florida primary, on Israel he is attacking Wasserman Schultz from the right.

Canova has strongly criticized Wasserman Schultz’s support of the president’s Iran nuclear deal, which he and other critics have said will worsen the threat against Israel.

“I’m already meeting with rabbis and local Jewish leaders,” he told the Forward in a May interview. “Folks are afraid of her,” Canova said.

Canova did note at the time that he has yet to translate those meetings into public support.

Wasserman Schultz was by no means a vocal supporter of the deal. She waited until the last minute to voice her support, and the Florida congresswoman did publicly voice reservations as well as hosted Vice President Joe Biden at a meeting with Jewish leaders in her district to deliberate the deal.

While Canova is not Jewish, he grew up with a Jewish stepfather and has visited Israel many times, even living for several months on a kibbutz, as Sanders did in the 1960s.

Since Sanders’ endorsement, Canova has drawn almost even with Wasserman Schultz in fundraising. He has raised $2.27 million so far, to Wasserman Schultz’s $2.81 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Data journalism site FiveThirtyEight, created by polling expert Nate Silver, gave FM3 a B- in its new project grading polling firms on their accuracy. Of the seven polls the site analyzed, the firm called nearly 80 percent of the races correctly.

Contact Drew Gerber at gerber@forward.com or on Twitter, @dagerber

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Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Tough Primary Race Just Got Tougher

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