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Debbie Wasserman Schultz fends off primary challenge from insurgent backed by Bernie Sanders

The national attention paid to the race never made a ton of sense.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz — hated by Bernie Sanders loyalists, apparently in the good graces of South Florida's voters.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, easily fended off a primary challenge in her South Florida congressional district on Tuesday.

Wasserman Schultz was up against Tim Canova, a law professor who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. But Wasserman Schultz looks to have won easily, with the Associated Press projecting at around 10 pm that she’d defeat Canova in her bid for a seventh term.

Seeing Wasserman Schultz likely heading back to Congress is something of a bitter pill for Sanders’s supporters to swallow. They’d vilified her throughout the primary as part of the reason Sanders lost, and successfully forced her to resign from her role as chair after a WikiLeaks dump suggested that DNC staff had favored Hillary Clinton during the primary.

Sanders criticized Wasserman Schultz pointedly and throughout the primary campaign while directing his legions of followers to help Canova. And so the Wasserman Schultz/Canova race got a lot of press coverage as a proxy battle for the primary.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz
(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

But it was never really clear how Canova’s bid threatened the longtime Democratic Congress member. Sanders’s endorsement of Canova helped him raise money but probably didn’t make him that much more popular — after all, Clinton easily defeated Sanders in Wasserman Schultz’s district.

Still, as the primary went on, Canova took to openly criticizing Sanders for failing to campaign on his behalf. Making matters worse, Our Revolution — Sanders’s down-ballot organization — never really intervened to help Canova, according to the Atlantic’s Clare Foran. In retrospect, there was never much reason to think a Sanders endorsement would push Canova over the edge.

Sanders’s supporters have generally struggled to get his "political revolution" kicking into high gear at the state and local level. But Wasserman Schultz’s victory tonight was probably not much of a sign of where Sanders’s movement goes next.