In an interview with USA Today, Bernie Sanders announced plans for the Sanders Institute and other educational and political organizations to continue the revolution his campaign spawned.
Sanders will also be campaigning for at least 100 progressives around the country—including democrat Tim Canova, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s primary congressional challenger.
Shortly into the presidential primaries, Wasserman Schultz emerged as an icon of the Democratic Establishment‘s favoritism for Hillary Clinton. Wasserman Schultz, current DNC chair and Clinton’s 2008 campaign co-chair, has been criticized for developing a limited debate schedule to shield Clinton from exposure. Documents leaked by hacker Guccifer 2.0 reveal the DNC named Clinton their presidential nominee nearly a year before the Iowa caucuses even began. In May 2016, MSNBC host Chris Hayes said Wasserman Schultz “vastly prefers Hillary Clinton to be the nominee—obviously—and to the extent that there are things that can be done institutionally and marginally to facilitate that outcome, they are being done.”
In May, when Sanders began negotiations with Clinton for his formal endorsement of her candidacy, he demanded a new DNC chair. “Those talks didn’t pick up much steam, sources said, with Clinton showing little appetite to boot Wasserman Schultz and cause a distraction, while Sanders focused his energy instead on influencing the party platform,” CNN reported.
With Sanders’ endorsement for Clinton behind him, his next steps leading up to the Democratic National Convention are to maintain a progressive presence within the party. As Wasserman Schultz was spared in negotiations for Sanders’ endorsement, the next best way to maintain a progressive presence is by ensuring she loses her reelection bid to a more progressive alternative like Tim Canova.
Canova has already raised over $2 million in his congressional race against Wasserman Schultz, in large part thanks to contributions from disenfranchised Sanders supporters. His momentum has received backlash from Democrats keen on keeping Wasserman Schultz in Congress.
In an interview with USA Today, Clinton downplayed the criticism of Wasserman Schultz’s leadership. “I’ve seen how committed she is to making sure Donald Trump is not the president,” Clinton said. “I’ve not heard any conversations in the party about changes.”
President Obama also affirmed his support for Wasserman Schultz at a Miami fundraiser in June. “She’s had my back, I want to make sure we have her back,” he said. Vice president Joe Biden jumped aboard, visiting Florida to fundraise for Wasserman Schultz’s campaign.
While several U.S. Senators including Bill Nelson, Tim Kaine Kristen Gillibrand and Barbara Mikulski opened up to the Hill in support of Wasserman Schultz, many others—under anonymity—addressed their concerns. The Hill noted that, because Clinton is known for valuing loyalty, making a change in DNC chair highly unlikely under her leadership as the Democratic presidential nominee.
Even though Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary is just around the corner—on August 30—she has consistently refused to debate Canova, and has limited her exposure as DNC chair. While Wasserman Schultz has avoided the public eye, Canova has exposed a litany of her policy shortfalls among progressives. The Miami Herald reported that Wasserman Schultz broke down in tears after the Florida AFL-CIO declined to endorse her, due to her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement—which Canova staunchly opposes.
Canova’s support for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidelines pushed Wasserman Schultz to flip-flop in her support for payday lenders. He also recently challenged Wasserman Schultz’s vote in favor of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act, which allows pension and benefit cuts to 400,000 American workers—many of them teamsters and union members.
“American unions should be standing up for American workers, not caving in to a corporate-dominated Democrat who has done so much to undermine both the Democratic Party and the security of American workers,” Canova wrote in a recent Huffington Post article. “I’m not afraid to stand up for American workers or to stand up to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. While she keeps dodging debates, I welcome the opportunity to discuss these and other issues in any public forum at anytime. That’s what a true democracy is all about.”