Debbie Wasserman Schultz holds onto House seat after bruising primary fight
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Debbie Wasserman Schultz holds onto House seat after bruising primary fight

Clinching roughly 57 percent of the vote, the former DNC chair defeats Bernie Sanders' darling Tim Canova

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Former DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., speaks during a Florida delegation breakfast, Monday, July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Former DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., speaks during a Florida delegation breakfast, Monday, July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

WASHINGTON — Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will keep her seat in the US House after defeating Tim Canova Tuesday in a bruising primary that featured traded barbs over Israel.

Five weeks after Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as chair of the Democratic National Committee due to hacked emails that revealed a preference for Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary, she prevailed over a Bernie Sanders’ supported challenger who sought to galvanize a constituency already furious with her leadership of the party.

Canova, a 56-year-old law professor and first-time political candidate, raised more than $3.3 million in his quest to oust the six-term incumbent. He came up short, as she raked in 57 percent of the vote in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, while he received 43 percent, according to the Associated Press.

The district, which comprises parts of Broward and Miami Dade County, is one of the most heavily Jewish in the country.

Canova gained national attention earlier this year after Sanders sent out emails fundraising on his behalf. Sanders spent much of the primary season lambasting the election process as being “rigged” against insurgent candidates such as himself.

After Wasserman Schultz’s resignation from her DNC post amid the email scandal at last month’s Democratic National Convention, she unleashed a string of high-profile endorsements, including from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Clinton.

She also benefited from the super PAC Patriot Majority PAC injecting $640,00 into the race to support her.

US policy toward Israel — and the dependability of each candidates’ support for Israel — was thrust onto the campaign spotlight two weeks ago during a debate, after Canova said his rival “can’t be counted on to stand with Israel” because of her supporting the Iran nuclear deal.

Florida Congressional candidate Tim Canova speaks during a forum at the Florida Technical College, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
Florida Congressional candidate Tim Canova speaks during a forum at the Florida Technical College, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Wasserman Schultz castigated her challenger for saying he supported a full disarmament of the Middle East in public appearances and on his campaign website. Canova answered by saying his advocacy of regional disarmament did not include Israel.

After the debate, he changed his website from saying “peace and security for Israel, the US, and the rest of the world is no longer possible without general disarmament and fundamental political and social reforms throughout the Middle East” to “peace and security for Israel, the US, and the rest of the world is no longer possible without general disarmament and fundamental political and social reforms – specifically in Iran, Saudia Arabia [sic] and among other state sponsors of terror – throughout the Middle East.”

The former DNC chair and prominent Jewish congresswoman also claimed that Canova flip-flopped on the Iran nuclear agreement, and changed his position depending on who he was addressing.

Canova responded by telling The Times of Israel: “Wasserman Schultz knows no shame when it comes to trying to exploit her religion even while selling out Israeli security for her own political gain.”

“It’s despicable that she tries to use her religion to suggest she’s a stronger supporter of Israel than me,” he added, and accused her of “cherry picking” his quotes.

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