WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge waits to be confirmed to President Joe Biden’s cabinet, the race to fill her seat in the U.S. House is taking shape.

What You Need To Know

  • Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown is running for Rep. Fudge’s U.S. House seat

  • Brown faces tough competition from Nina Turner, former co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign

  • Rep. Fudge is on track to become President Biden’s HUD secretary

  • Ohio’s 11th Congressional District is drawn to favor Democrats

Shontel Brown’s pitch is simple: She’s from Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, she considers Fudge a friend and mentor, and she’s already been working to improve northeast Ohio.

“I have been here for the past nine years as a legislator in the district working closely with leaders in the community,” Brown said in a Zoom interview Feb. 8. “And that has given me a great advantage and a pathway to victory.”

Brown views this as her upper hand over Nina Turner, a former state senator and co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ last presidential campaign. 

Spectrum News spoke with Turner about her bid last month. She’s used her national profile to already raise more than $1 million, but she hasn’t spent a lot of time in the district in recent years.

While Turner is the flashy outsider in the race, Brown is the plugged-in insider.

She’s been on the Cuyahoga County Council since 2015 and is the first woman and first Black person to serve as chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

Before that, Brown spent a few years on the Warrensville Heights City Council.

Through the years, Brown has developed a close bond with Rep. Fudge, who has mentored Brown throughout her decade representing the region in Washington.

“I can say of the candidates in the race, I have easily the best relationship with the current administration as well as the congresswoman to be able to pick up the phone to get us the resources that we need,” Brown said.

The 11th District is drawn to favor Democrats and they historically end up serving lengthy terms.

Five candidates have officially declared to succeed Fudge, but Brown and Turner are so far the frontrunners. What will be telling is how far left voters want their new member of Congress to be.

Brown is focusing on a middle of the road policy pitch.

“The short answer: health care, jobs, and justice,” she told Spectrum.

Brown has already secured more than 100 endorsements from community leaders across the district as part of a boots-on-the-ground approach she hopes will channel the widespread support for Fudge, who is expected to soon be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to take over as Biden’s secretary of housing and urban development.

“She has demonstrated what leadership looks like in a way that, again, I am eager to follow in her footsteps and carry on her legacy,” Brown said.

The other Democrats running are former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, former State Senator Shirley Smith, and former State Representative John Barnes Jr.