Whether Debbie Wasserman Schultz is actually scheduled to speak this weekend at the Florida Democratic Party Leadership Blue Gala this weekend is in question, but the possibility of that happening has brought out the wrath of the man she defeated in her congressional primary last year, Tim Canova.
“The party needs to move forward. She is perhaps the most divisive Democrat in the country,” Canova told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday, following a post on his Facebook page criticizing what he said was the decision by the FDP to allow Wasserman Schultz to address the party members at the annual three-day confab.
“She’s the personification of the disgrace, the scandal and the failure of the party,” Canova continued. “While she was the head of the DNC, the Democrats lost almost 1,000 legislative seats. She’s been implicated in violating the oath of impartiality in the presidential campaign.”
But there is some question about whether Wasserman Schultz is actually speaking at the event.
“It’s my understanding that U.S. House Members are not on the program this year,” Wasserman Schultz’ communications director David Damron said in an email.
The first news that she would be speaking came from a column by Sunshine State News contributor Leslie Wimes.
The Florida Democratic Party isn’t talking about who is speaking at the event, though it’s been publicized for weeks that Vice President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker.
Canova ran and lost to Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary for the Congressional District 23 seat by 14 points last August. It was a tense and divisive race.
Wasserman Schultz served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from May of 2011 until last July, when thousands of released emails among party officials appeared to show coordinated efforts to help Hillary Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, an idea that had been promulgated by Sanders, Martin O’Malley and their supporters for much of 2016. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair.
Those emails were published by WikiLeaks on the weekend leading into the Democratic National Convention in late July. On the Sunday before the convention began, the uproar was so intense that Wasserman Schultz announced she would resign at the end of the convention.
But early on the next morning, Wasserman Schultz was unceremoniously jeered by members of the Florida delegation, an embarrassing event captured live on cable news that compelled her to step down immediately as DNC Chair.
Canova says that at one point he was scheduled to appear on some panels this weekend in Hollywood at Leadership Blue but was contacted by Sally Boynton Brown, the president of the FDP, and told that candidates for office cannot participate in such panels.
However, that would appear to be in conflict with a scheduled Democratic Progressive Caucus panel featuring the three announced Democrats running for governor: Andrew Gillum, Chris King and Gwen Graham.
Although he has not officially announced another run in 2018, Canova did establish a campaign committee earlier this year. He says he understands Brown’s decision, and will attend the Gala to speak at some of the various caucuses Saturday.
Last Friday afternoon, Boynton Brown then called Canova and invited him to speak on a panel.
“What changed?” he asked her.
Canova says that Boynton Brown said Wasserman Schultz called to say that she wanted to give the gala’s welcoming remarks, “so this would allow it [to be] easier for them to allow Debbie to speak at the gala,” Canova says.
“I didn’t want to be complicit in that,” Canova says. “Putting Debbie Wasserman Schultz to welcome people to the gala is an atrocious idea.”
However, it now appears that Wasserman Schultz will not be speaking – but the fact is, nobody knows for certain at this time.
Canova is also hyping his own event for Thursday night, where he will announce political plans for next year.