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In Florida Congressional Primary, Sanders and Clinton Pick Proxy Fight

Despite an attempt to show party unity at the Democratic convention last month, the fight between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton continues to rage, this time in Florida.

On Tuesday, Sanders sent out a fundraising email that said beating Rep. Wasserman Schultz in the Florida primary will send “a clear message about the power of our grassroots movement” as Sanders continues to campaign for her opponent Tim Canova, even following Wasserman Schultz’s ouster from the party leadership following the leak of emails that appeared to show the party worked against the Sanders campaign.

Clinton, who stumped on the campaign trail for Wasserman Schultz after finally endorsing the former party chair Tuesday, promised to campaign for her after Wasserman Schultz resigned her post.

“I look forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid — because as President, I will need fighters like Debbie in Congress who are ready on day one to get to work for the American people,” Clinton said in a statement at the time.

Wasserman Schultz has also been endorsed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

As Sanders’ email made clear, frustration among the progressive wing of the Democratic party is still simmering and that the slights of the presidential primary won’t be quickly forgotten.

“Much like in our campaign for president, Tim started off as a major underdog in this race, battling a well-known and well-established person who was the chairwoman of the Democratic Party,” the email said. “Tim is on the side of working people and that’s why we need to help him win.”

Sanders endorsed Canova, who supports much of the same progressive platform as Sanders, in May, and also wrote a fundraising email for Canova at the time. The fact that Sanders is continuing to campaign for progressive candidates like Canova sets the stage for a proxy war between the Sanders and Clinton camps, and it shows he aims to continue pushing his agenda and challenging the party leadership even after Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic candidate.

Though Sanders decided against mentioning Wasserman Schultz or the DNC email scandal during his prime-time speech at the Democratic convention last month, the email had no holds barred as it slammed the former chairwoman for the party’s bias against Sanders’ campaign and cast her as part of the problem with the Democratic establishment.

“The recent emails leaked from Democratic Party staff showed that under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC staff were not exactly fair and even-minded during the presidential primary,” the email said. “But now that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned we have the opportunity to transform the Democratic Party and open up its doors to working people and young people — people who want real change.”

The email also noted how close the Florida primary race has become, citing a July poll showing Canova trailing Wasserman Schultz by only eight points. However, that poll also showed the gap between the candidates shrunk to three points after likely voters learned more about Canova.

Sanders lost Florida in the Democratic primary to Clinton, who won in landslide back in March with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Contact Drew Gerber at [email protected] or on Twitter, @dagerber


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