Wasserman Schultz will get independent challenge from Canova
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Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzParkland father: Twitter did not suspend users who harassed me using name of daughter's killer Hillicon Valley: Senate Intel releases election security report | GOP blocks votes on election security bills | Gabbard sues Google over alleged censorship | Barr meets state AGs on tech antitrust concerns House committee leader questions Trump on efforts to secure elections MORE's (D-Fla.) top primary opponent, who ran against her in 2016 with the backing of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses MORE (I-Vt.), is leaving the party to mount an independent bid against her this fall. 
 
Tim Canova, who won attention for his challenge against the then-Democratic National Committee leader in 2016, had been running in the Democratic primary until the Monday announcement. 
 
While Wasserman Schultz remains the heavy favorite in the solidly Democratic district, the decision could lead to a contested three-way race for the South Florida seat if Canova gains steam. 
 
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Canova said he was leaving the Democratic Party because it had "screwed over" progressive candidates.
 
“I am not screwing the Democratic Party. It has screwed over too many ordinary Americans and it has screwed over too many progressive candidates," he said in a speech outside the Broward County Governmental Center, the Orlando Sun Sentinel reported.
 
Canova, a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University, called Wasserman Schultz "the albatross around this party" and a "menace" to the world.
 
“I have watched as my party has come to resemble a battered spousal relationship. The party regularly ignores its grass-roots base and it abuses those who, like me, challenge party incumbents," he said.
 
Wasserman Schultz has become a more controversial figure in the Democratic Party because of her stewardship of the DNC, which was seen as tilting for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers Biden struggles to hit it off with millennials MORE and against Sanders in the 2016 primary. 
 
She also led the DNC during the period in which it was hacked, with damaging emails leaked out during the election season. Intelligence officials believe Russia was behind the hack. 
 
Despite all the controversy, Wasserman Schultz comfortably won her primary in 2016 over Canova, even though it took place in August after the email controversy. She won 57 percent of the vote — a low percentage for an incumbent — to Canova's 43 percent. 
 
She won the general election with 56.7 percent of the vote against Republican Joe Kaufman's 40.5 percent.
 
Canova already faced long odds in toppling Wasserman Schultz even after the fallout from her tumultuous exit from the DNC. 
 
Independent challenges rarely have success in modern national politics — the only federal lawmakers to consistently win as independents are Sanders and fellow Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingBipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year New intel chief inherits host of challenges Senators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings MORE (I-Maine). 
 
Other independent bids in recent years have only been successful when a well-known lawmaker runs from outside the party after losing a primary or facing a concern with election law. 
 
That's why one Florida Democrat told The Hill that the decision will have little effect on Wasserman Schultz's reelection chances.
 
"This move is a concession, not a strategy. DWS is probably having a good laugh right about now," the strategist said over email, using the congresswoman's initials. 
 
So while it's possible that Canova could siphon off some votes, particularly those protesting Wasserman Schultz, it's still seen as unlikely that he can make enough of an impact to affect her reelection chances. 
 
Canova has just $5,000 in his campaign account after raising $166,000 in 2017. 
 
He's also been no stranger to controversy during his political career. He's repeatedly raised questions about the 2016 primary election results, according to the Sun Sentinel. 
 
He also refused to rule out the prospect of the DNC having anything to do with the murder of a former staffer, Seth Rich, that's become the center of a conspiracy theory. When asked by the Sun Sentinal last year whether he thought "the DNC under Wasserman Schultz might have been capable of murder," Canova replied, "I have no idea." 
 
And while Sanders backed his 2016 bid, the popular progressive senator has kept his distance this time, telling the Miami Herald last year "I know nothing about Tim Canova."
 
A press secretary for Wasserman Schultz said in an email to the Sun Sentinel that the Florida Democrat "takes every election seriously and this time will be no exception."