In January, when New Times first profiled Tim Canova, the onetime Bernie Sanders adviser running to take Debbie Wasserman Schultz's congressional seat, a handful of political analysts wrote him off entirely.
"It totally comes down to money," said David Custin. "The conventional wisdom says, 'Nope, no way. The guy running against her just isn't going to have the money.'"
In what has been a running theme this election cycle, it turns out the "conventional wisdom" was dead wrong.
Yesterday, Canova announced that he'd raised $557,000 from January through March from 25,000 people — a staggering total for a candidate who was virtually unknown as of this past December. According to Canova's own campaign, this is the fastest any first-time candidate in South Florida has raised that much money ever. And most notably, it puts him in real contention.
Though most analysts cede that Canova has the pedigree to make a run, yesterday's announcement has finally turned him into more than just a thorn in Wasserman Schultz's side. Her true strength is her never-ending supply of money — according to campaign filings, she had raised roughly $1.1 million by the end of 2015 and ended the year with $468,254 on hand. Improbably, Canova caught up to her within a single filing cycle.
(Interestingly, Canova says he raised $100,000 during the last four days of March, right after President Obama endorsed Wasserman Schultz.)
Along with Pennsylvania's socialist-wrestler candidate John Fetterman (who supports Canova), the 55-year-old New York state native is the truest test of Bernie Sanders' proposed "political revolution." Canova is, in essence, a proxy for Sanders, in that both candidates have promised to reform Wall Street and chop corporate money out of the election cycle. Both were even barred from accessing the Democratic National Committee's voter-data files.
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Sanders' biggest weakness is that he's still basically a lone man screaming in the back corner of the congressional classroom. If Canova takes the 23rd District, all future bets are off.
Though money is money, it remains to be seen if Canova is building real support within his own district or whether most of his fans have been sending him love letters from out of state. He's wildly popular on Reddit's r/TimCanova and r/SandersForPresident threads, which act as petri dishes for anti-Wasserman Schultz sentiment. Scores of Americans from all over the country have reported donating to Canova's campaign — user CyrexCore2k, for example, said yesterday that he cut Canova a check despite the fact that he lives in California. (We'll update the post on local contributors if we hear back from his campaign.)
Regardless, the groundswell can only be good news for a district that has lacked political competition for quite some time. In the meantime, you may want to sign this petition to get Canova on the Daily Show.