MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The August primary is just days away and a Nova Southeastern University professor is hoping for a surge in support to do something that critics have said is nearly impossible – unseat the Democratic incumbent for the 23rd district who has held the office virtually unopposed since she won it in 2005.
Tim Canova, who teaches law and public finance at the university, is gunning for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The drama in this race kicked up a notch just before the start of the Democratic National Convention when she stepped down as Chair of the Democratic National Committee after leaked emails from staffers which appeared to show favoritism towards Hillary Clinton at the expense of her main rival Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, as you can imagine, hasn’t endorsed Wasserman Schultz but instead thrown his support to Canova.
The first time office seeker has used that endorsement to tap into the legion of Sander’s supporters who have pumped millions into his campaign. As a result, Canova has raised nearly $3 million – an unheard of amount for a no-name candidate.
Canova has portrayed the six-term Congresswoman as a creature of Washington more interested in protecting moneyed special interests than her own constituents.
In their first, and only debate on CBS4’s “Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede,” Canova was put to the test on his knowledge of the community and those he would be representing should he win.
“Do you know who the mayor of Southwest Ranches is,” asked Defede.
“I’m not going to play that game. No, I do not,” Canova replied. “I’m not going to play that game.”
Wasserman Schultz quickly interrupted.
“Jeff Nelson by the way, ” she said. “ He’s also the assistant Principal of Southwest Ranches High School,” she added.
During the debate, DeFede asked Canova if he wasn’t so much a candidate but a tool used by Sanders supporters around the country to attack Wasserman Schultz, who has long been the focus of their anger.
“I don’t see that at all,” Canova said. “If I had a different kind of politics I would not get this support nationwide that I have.”
Wasserman Schultz countered that Canova was trying to distance himself from the fact that over 90 percent of the support he has financially was from people outside the state.
On the issue of medical marijuana, Canova said he supports the amendment on the ballot this November. Wasserman Schultz, however, continued to duck the question and say she has not made up her mind.
To watch the entire debate, you can click here.
Wasserman Schultz has the backing of Democratic Party’s establishment including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic presidential nominee Clinton.