Wasserman Schultz wins primary against Sanders-backed challenger
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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the embattled former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, defeated a primary challenger who was hoping for a boost from the presidential campaign and support of Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersPoll: Gillum leads DeSantis by 5 points in Florida governor race Sanders: Kavanaugh accusers 'have risked their lives to come forward' Helping citizens unite in post-Citizens United America MORE.
 
Wasserman Schultz dispatched a challenge from law professor Tim Canova, who sought to capitalize on the controversies surrounding her tenure at the DNC and ride on the popularity of Sanders's Democratic presidential campaign. With 81 percent of the vote counted, Wasserman Schultz had 57 percent to Canova's 42 percent, The Associated Press reported. 
 
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The six-term congresswoman decided to step down from the DNC last month, on the eve of the party’s national convention, after leaked emails from suspected Russian hackers showed staffers denigrating Sanders’s campaign in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSenate panel subpoenas Roger Stone associate for Russia probe Webb: The new mob: Anti-American Dems Clinton to hold fundraiser for Menendez in NJ next month MORE, the eventual nominee.
 
Canova’s underdog bid against Wasserman Schultz became a proxy battle for progressives sympathetic to Sanders who were frustrated with the Democratic establishment. 
 
Wasserman Schultz became a target of that anger long before the DNC hack, which served to confirm Sanders supporters’ suspicions that she favored Clinton.
 
Sanders’s endorsement of Canova in May further boosted Canova's national profile. And like Sanders, Canova posted an impressive fundraising haul of more than $3.5 million, with an average donation of $22.
 
Even with her advantage of incumbency, Wasserman Schultz raised close to the same amount, with nearly $3.4 million.
 
Yet Sanders was conspicuously absent in the race’s final days. Despite indicating as recently as a month ago that he might campaign for Canova, Sanders stayed off the radar without explanation.
 
Canova lamented last week during an interview with the left-leaning “The Young Turks” web series that “it is a bit disappointing” that Sanders hadn’t campaigned for him. He later tried to downplay Sanders’s silence in a conversation with The Hill, saying an appearance in the district could have been a “distraction.” 
 
In the end, Wasserman Schultz’s troubles at the national level weren’t enough to damage her longstanding relationships in the Miami-area district. Before winning election to the House in 2004, she served in the state legislature for more than a decade.
 
The district was never exactly Sanders territory: Clinton won it by almost 40 points in the Florida presidential primary. 
 
Still, Wasserman Schultz pulled out all the stops for a tough fight. She recruited prominent Democrats to campaign for her, including Clinton, Vice President Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (Ariz.). She also had the public support of President Obama.
 
Some Florida political observers said Canova simply didn’t go after Wasserman Schultz hard enough on the emails leaked by the DNC hack. 
 
In the race’s only primary debate earlier this month, Canova pointed to what he described as a “troubling” email showing Wasserman Schultz complaining to MSNBC host Chuck Todd about unfavorable coverage and accused her of not supporting free speech. 
 
A few minutes later, however, he said he agreed with Wasserman Schultz that the controversial emails weren’t a priority for the district’s voters.
 
“Nobody cares about these emails right now,” Canova joked, in a line reminiscent of Sanders telling Clinton during a Democratic primary debate that “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” 
 
That immediately gave Wasserman Schultz an opening: “I’m not sure why we’re talking about them, then,” she replied.
 
While Wasserman Schultz still faces a Republican challenger in November, she is heavily favored to be reelected to Florida's 23rd District.