FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Whatever voters around the country think about U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrats in her South Florida district still support her by a significant margin.
After a horrible two months that saw her forced resignation as Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Wasserman Schultz turned back the first primary challenge of her career Tuesday and likely won a seventh term in Congress.
Wasserman Schultz defeated law professor Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed challenger, by a 57-43 percent margin. She will face Republican Joe Kaufman in November. He lost to Wasserman Schultz by a 63 to 37 percent margin in 2014 in the 2-to-1 Democratic district.
“The result was so incredibly gratifying,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It really fills my heart to know the people I have represented said with this margin and this vote that ‘We know her and we have been able to count on her for all these years and we want her to keep fighting for us.’ They aren’t going to let millions of dollars from people outside the state decide who is going to represent our community in Washington.”
Canova, 56, raised $3.3 million, according to his filings with the Federal Elections Commission, an almost unheard of amount for a first-time candidate and primary challenger. That allowed him to operate four field offices and run TV ads.
Wasserman Schultz, 49, raised $3 million but has been assisted by spending from political action committees. She has also gotten backing from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
In Wasserman Schultz’s previous elections, she never drew a primary opponent in her suburban Fort Lauderdale district or a serious Republican challenge. In general elections, she received at least 60 percent of the vote in the district that stretches from the ocean to the Everglades.
The email leaks that cost Wasserman Schultz her post as chair of the Democratic National Committee motivated Canova’s backers, who say the emails show that she and DNC staff members were unfair to Sanders during the Democratic presidential primaries. They say she is part of a Wall Street takeover of the party.
Canova, who teaches at Nova Southeastern University, has accused Wasserman Schultz of taking large donations from the sugar industry to ignore Everglades’ pollution.
Wasserman Schultz has accused Canova of not being a strong supporter of Israel, a key issue in a district with a large Jewish population.