By Tim Canova 

In early April, I announced I was running as a No Party Affiliation (NPA) candidate — an independent — on the ballot this November against Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a yet-to-be-determined Republican candidate.

Almost immediately, the Schultz team started a whispering campaign that I was now a “spoiler” — that by running “third-party” (which I’m not), I would help elect the Republican. They whisper it will be just like when Ralph Nader supposedly helped elect George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000.

This “spoiler” attack is revealing. First, there’s no chance of a Republican winning in a three-way race in this particular district which was specially gerrymandered for Schultz. And second, it shows how worried the Schultz camp is that they can’t possibly win in a three-way race at a time when NPAs almost outnumber Democrats in our district.

Florida’s 23rd Congressional District was gerrymandered for Schultz and it’s been a safe Democratic seat — that is, up until now. But the population has been changing here, as reflected in the demographics of registered voters in the district: 25% Republican, 35% indie, and 40% Democrat.

In 2000, when Bush beat Gore, there was about a one percentage point difference between Democrats and Republicans. In Florida’s 23rd, Republicans are 15 percentage points behind Democrats and 10 percentage points behind NPAs. It’s hard to imagine a Republican taking second in a three-way race in this district, let alone ever winning.

That means Democrats can feel free to vote their conscience, vote for change, and vote against an unpopular incumbent. Among every part of the electorate, including among Democrats, voters agree that the status quo has got to go.

Even while running as an indie, we are maintaining strong support among grassroots Democrats. It’s the party leadership we oppose, the ones who have lost touch with the people. We intend to win among grassroots Democratic voters. And that’s because they know I’m the real “New Deal” Democrat in the race and Schultz is now the embodiment of a corporate-owned Democrat.

In addition, a great many Democrats, including in Florida, will always see Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the real “spoiler” — spoiling the Democratic Party and our democracy.

There’s another big difference between Nader’s 2000 campaign and ours. Nader was running as a Green at a time when only a few percent of the population identified as Green. And while I strongly support the Green agenda and I have the support of many Greens, I’m running as an indie at a time when nearly a plurality of my district now identifies as independent.

And here’s the really great news for us: among Millennials, Gen Xers, and younger voters, about 71% are now indie, and they are the most progressive and fastest growing part of the electorate!

The Schultz camp should worry that they can’t win a 3-way race!

I have one last beef with Schultz’s whispering campaign against me as a Nader-like spoiler. It’s very premise is factually incorrect. In 2000, for every one of the 24,000 Democrats who defected to vote for Ralph Nader in Florida, about 12 times as many Democrats (308,000) voted for Bush. Exit polls in Florida showed that if Nader had not run, Bush would have won the state by even more!

After the 2016 election fiasco — with Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump after referring to everyone even thinking of voting for him as “deplorables” — Democrats should have learned to stop shaming and blaming the voters. But vote shaming is what this “spoiler” argument is all about and it’s a losing argument. The present political divide is no longer just Republicans versus Democrats. For most of us, it’s insiders versus outsiders, and corruption versus integrity.

I’m not afraid of a three-way race, I’m not afraid of debates, and I’m not afraid of Schultz and the corrupt machine she serves. We have the people on our side, and that’s because we are of, by, and for the people.

Keep the faith and thank you for all your support!

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