Bernie Sanders said Saturday afternoon he would back the primary challenger of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — and added that if elected president she would not be reappointed to head the DNC.
During a pre-taped interview with CNN that will air in full Sunday, Sanders said that he would support Nova Southeastern University law professor Tim Canova over Rep. Wasserman Schultz in her Democratic primary race for Florida’s 23rd congressional district.
"Well, clearly, I favor her opponent," Sanders told "State of the Union" anchor Jake Tapper when asked to weigh in on the congressional race, ”His views are much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz’s."
"And let me also say this: In all due respect to the current chairperson, if elected president she would not be reappointed to be chair of the DNC," Sanders said.
Sanders took the comment one step further Sunday, by sending an email blast to his supporters soliciting donations for Canova explicitly.
"Splitting a contribution between Bernie 2016 and Tim Canova for Congress will help elect progressives up and down the ballot while sending an UNMISTAKABLE message about our political revolution’s commitment to electing candidates who share our values,” read the fundraising email blast.
Sanders built a campaign on opposing establishment politics. Canova and others have accused Wasserman Schultz of backing Hillary Clinton and using her influence to tip the scales in her favor.
In a statement provided to NBC News Saturday, Wasserman Schultz said she has been neutral in the race and would remain so despite Sanders’ support of Canova.
“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," read the statement.
Canova is an avid supporter of Senator Sanders and released an appreciative statement on the endorsement.
"I’m so proud to know that Bernie Sanders favors our progressive campaign," Canova said in the statement. "Like Senator Sanders I’m running a campaign that’s truly backed by the people, not big corporations — one that stands up to Wall Street interests instead of cozying up to them.”
Canova has raised over $1 million to challenge Wasserman Shultz in their August 30 Democratic primary.
Sanders' statement of support for Canova caps a week of discussion on unity within the Democratic Party after a turbulent state convention in Nevada.