Bernie Sanders stepped up his feud with the Democratic leadership, saying he’s backing the primary opponent of Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party’s national committee chairwoman.
“Clearly, I favor her opponent. His views are much closer to mine than Ms. Wasserman Schultz’s,” the Vermont senator said in an excerpt of an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that will air in full on Sunday. Sanders added he would not reappoint the congresswoman to head the committee if he’s elected president in November.
Sanders’s support of
Tim Canova over Wasserman Schultz, 49, underscores the divisions festering within the Democratic Party going into the final month of state nominating contests, including the delegate-rich California primary on June 7, and the national convention in late July.
With Hillary Clinton’s lead over Sanders in the nomination race all but insurmountable, she and party leaders had been looking to take advantage of a split in the Republican Party over Donald Trump’s candidacy. Instead, they’re contending with their own infighting.
Some of Sanders’s supporters have
assailed Wasserman Schultz’s leadership, accusing her and the national committee of tilting the nomination process to boost Clinton, the former secretary of state.
Nevada Boils Over
Those divisions boiled over last weekend when some Sanders backers lashed out at a Nevada state party convention where they felt the rules and leaders unfairly favored Clinton. They booed speakers, including Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a longtime progressive member of the Democratic Party, and some hurled profanity and death threats at the state party chairwoman.
Sanders, under pressure to condemn the events, issued a statement that blamed the Democratic Party establishment for fueling his supporters’ anger.
Canova, 56, a law professor challenging in Wasserman Schultz’s south Florida congressional district, is well known to Sanders, having provided advice on Wall Street reforms to the Democratic Socialist in 2011.
“I am proud to know that Bernie Sanders is favoring our progressive campaign to #RetireDWS,” Canova said in a Facebook post. “Like Senator Sanders, I’m running a campaign that’s truly backed by the people, not big corporations.”
Florida’s congressional primary will be held on Aug. 30. In 2014 Wasserman Schultz ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination in her district.
“I am so proud to serve the people of Florida’s 23rd district and I am confident that they know that I am an effective fighter and advocate on their behalf in Congress,” Wasserman Schultz said in an e-mailed statement. “Even though Senator Sanders has endorsed my opponent I remain, as I have been from the beginning, neutral in the Presidential Democratic primary. I look forward to working together with him for Democratic victories in the fall.”
It’s unclear if Sanders will back Canova financially. Warren Gunnels, the senator’s policy director, said on Twitter that he’d donated to Canova on Tuesday after Wasserman Schultz gave an interview to CNN saying Sanders’s statement on the Nevada violence was unacceptable.