Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida won closely watched primaries after being challenged by a pair of Republicans who had embraced Donald Trump. McCain beat Kelli Ward, a doctor and former state senator. Rubio defeated millionaire developer Carlos Beruff. Rubio will now face Democrat Patrick Murphy in November in what is expected to be one of the most expensive Senate races this year. On Tuesday, Murphy easily defeated Congressmember Alan Grayson, who lost several key endorsements after being accused by his ex-wife of domestic abuse. In other Florida election news, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated progressive challenger Tim Canova, who was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders. Shortly before midnight, Canova told reporters: “I’ll concede that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge.” For more on the primary results, we speak with Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida won closely watched primaries yesterday after being challenged by a pair of Republicans who had embraced Donald Trump. McCain beat Kelli Ward, a doctor and former state senator. Rubio defeated millionaire developer Carlos Beruff. Rubio will now face Democrat Patrick Murphy in November in what’s expected to be one of the most expensive Senate races this year. On Tuesday, Murphy easily defeated Congressmember Alan Grayson, who lost several key endorsements after being accused by his ex-wife of domestic abuse.
In other Florida election news, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated progressive challenger Tim Canova, who was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders. Shortly before midnight, Canova told reporters, quote, “I’ll concede that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge,” unquote. Last month, Schultz resigned as chair of the Democratic National Committee after WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Sanders. Longtime Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown lost her primary. She was indicted last month on corruption charges along with her chief of staff.
To talk more about Tuesday’s election results, we’re joined by Jim Dean, the chair of Democracy for America, founded in 2004 by former presidential candidate and DNC chair Governor Howard Dean, his brother.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Jim Dean. Talk about the significance of the primaries, what you think was most significant about what happened yesterday.
JIM DEAN: Well, Amy, thanks for having me on this morning. And, you know, there are two significant things, one which is sort of the significance of the insignificance, in that, you know, we saw very low turnouts in both states. And—but on a more constructive note, I really, really focus on a couple things—one, the courageous campaign that Tim Canova ran, a campaign that helped lift some very important issues to the voters at large into the national consciousness, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the subsidy—corporate subsidy agreement that both presidential candidates are now against, and also calling attention to the issue of money in politics, which both Democratic and Republican voters are really fed up with, as well as some of the private prison situations that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had actually been supporting, and along with payday lending. So, he really ran a courageous campaign. He got over 40 percent of the vote, which is really unheard of in a district that she had locked down so much since 2004. And so, that was significant.
I think the election of Aramis Ayala as the state prosecutor in Orange County, juxtaposed against the discussion you were having about the prosecutor Angela Corey, former prosecutor Angela Corey, I think, is also indicative. She’s a game changer and one whose own life experience certainly portends for a better justice system, at least in Orange County, Florida.
So, those are good news. You know, other candidates did not do so well. We were supporting a number of candidates in state legislative races. We’re absolutely thrilled that one of the great statesmen of the Florida Legislature, Dwight Bullard, won his primary, a party that put up—against a party put-up candidate who’s basically a Republican.
But there’s a long way to go here. And there’s particularly a long way to go if you look at how the Senate race actually played out, the role of the state party and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in trying to grease the skids, the amount of incredible resources they spent, in fact, to get a person nominated who not only was recently a Republican, but a person who voted against the Iran war treaty, voted, I think, even for offshore oil drilling off of the coast of Florida, and voted for the Benghazi panel. I mean, the Democrats have a very, very weak nominee right now running for U.S. Senate in Florida. I’m not sure how much money is going to be spent there, because I think pretty quickly it’s going to be very clear that this is not really a contrast to Marco—the Republican nominee, Marco Rubio. So, we’ll have to see how it plays out. It’s always interesting in Florida.
But the big thing we’ve all got to focus on right now, and this would also go for Arizona, is trying to help folks take back this country, get involved and go vote. And there’s a lot of very disaffected people out there. We really need to focus on them. And I think a lot of good things have happened in the last six months that will help us do that. But we have a short-term issue here, and that is voter turnout.
AMY GOODMAN: John McCain in Arizona, he had—it wasn’t a very close race, but the issue is a very critical one, his opponent talking about him being too old, 80 years old, that he’s suggesting he had Alzheimer’s.
JIM DEAN: Well, I think that’s a little below the belt. And listen, we support candidates who are young and candidates who are older. And if they’re young at heart, I’m fine with that. I mean, Mike Honda is a fantastic example of a statesman who’s been around for a long time and an absolute fighter for what—the issues that the voters actually care about, not actually a corporate Democrat, so—although he’s running against one. And those are—you know, so, I think voters aren’t really tuned into that kind of thing. I don’t think they buy into that sort of message that Kelli Ward had. And I think you could say that, no matter who she was running against, whether it was a John McCain incumbent or some other incumbent.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova—Tim Canova known around the country because, I think, of Bernie Sanders’ support for him and his major feud with Debbie Wasserman Schultz over her preference for Hillary Clinton, and now all proven by the 20,000 email that WikiLeaks released. Bernie Sanders has set up the new organization, Our Revolution. How does Our Revolution compare to your Democracy for America? Talk about the status, the 501(c)(4), dark money versus PAC.
JIM DEAN: Well, yeah, first, we’re a political action committee and always have been. They are going to support candidates—there are going to be two or three of these organizations out of Our Revolution, and that will include candidate support. And, in fact, we’ve been doing some work with them on that, because our real belief here is that we need to have Our Revolution out there. They have a great energy that they bought from Bernie’s campaign. I think they’re going to be very, very effective. And I really am very, frankly, enamored with the entrepreneurial spirit that is now out there in politics.
And it’s not just Our Revolution, Amy. It’s a number of networks—they’re not even necessarily organizations—that have grown out of Bernie’s campaign. A lot of these folks are focused on justice issues—economic, social, racial justice—as well as political reform. And I look at many of them as sort of being in the same place that—where Black Lives Matter probably was when they were first starting out. And now that they have grown into an effective force, we want more of this, not less of it. This is not about an organization; it’s really about empowering people. And the more folks you have there doing that, the better.
So I think Our Revolution is going to add a huge contribution to that. And I really appreciate the candidate support they’ve gotten. They certainly raised a ton of money—Bernie’s campaign, anyway, before Our Revolution was formed—raised a lot of money for Congress—for Tim Canova’s campaign and helped nationalize that race. And so, there’s a lot more to go there and, I think, a lot of very positive contributions for them to make. And we certainly hope to be working with them, as well as other organizations, to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Jim Dean, I want to thank you for being with us, joining us from Burlington, Vermont, chair of Democracy for America, founded in 2004 by his brother, former presidential candidate, DNC chair, Governor Howard Dean.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, more with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Stay with us.