House races

Challenger hits Wasserman Schultz for ‘dodging debates’

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Congressional candidate Tim Canova ripped Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on Monday, questioning if she has any intention of following through on a public pledge to debate him. 

“Perhaps you have no intention of debating at all and that this was simply a smokescreen. I understand.  It’s a strategy used by many entrenched incumbents who are fearful of having to defend their records,” Canova wrote in an “open letter” that was released by his campaign. 
{mosads}The letter comes roughly four days after Wasserman Schultz said she had agreed to debate her primary opponent, a law professor backed by former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders
But Canova said Monday that while he was initially “pleased” by her decision, he hasn’t heard from the congresswoman or her campaign about setting up a debate schedule. 
“I … remain skeptical of your commitment to debate,” he wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, in the eyes of so many, your decision to continue dodging debates reflects contempt for fair and open elections and for democracy itself.” 
A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, Ryan Banfill, said the campaign hadn’t received the letter “so it apparently was just a media play.” Banfill did not respond to a question about whether the campaign had reached out to Canova to set up a debate schedule.
Wasserman Schultz said late Monday afternoon that she would “announce details this week” about the primary debates.
“I’m looking forward to debating my opponent on the issues that are most critical to the people of Florida’s 23rd congressional district,” she added in a statement.
Canova has been calling on the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman to debate him for months amid an increasingly acrimonious primary fight. 
He added Monday that he’s had “tens of thousands of voters” sign petitions calling on the two to debate, adding “perhaps we will have them delivered to you as your silence continues.”
Canova’s campaign also announced Monday that it had filed a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) complaint against Wasserman Schultz, alleging that she “used her position with the DNC and the resources of the DNC to improperly benefit her congressional campaign.”
Wasserman Schultz stepped down from her role atop the DNC late last month after internal emails posted online by WikiLeaks showed her offering sharp criticism about Sanders and a top campaign aide. 
Democrats have rallied around Wasserman Schultz, who led Canova by 8 percentage points in a poll released by his campaign earlier this month. 
—Updated at 5:58 p.m.
Tags Bernie Sanders

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