CLEVELAND — Two more Cleveland City Council members have announced they are backing Nina Turner’s bid to represent Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland and Ward 11 Councilman Brian Mooney told Spectrum News Turner won their support in the crowded Democratic primary to succeed Marcia Fudge, who resigned from Congress earlier this year once she was confirmed to be President Biden’s secretary of housing and urban development.
“[Turner’s] fiery, but she’s also very compassionate,” Cleveland said in a phone interview Monday night. “She’s fierce about protecting the rights of the communities she represents.”
Turner, a former state senator and Cleveland City Council member who rose to national prominence as a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns, has been intertwining her Cleveland roots with the progressive vision that made her a national political figure.
“I am humbled to receive this support from Councilmember Mooney and Councilmember Cleveland, who fight day in and day out for the people of this great city,” Turner said in a statement. “I understand from experience the great work they do on the front lines to address the needs of our community and I look forward to being a partner with them to put the people of Ohio’s 11th Congressional District first.”
Mooney said Turner’s time in local office combined with her experience on the national stage are a good recipe for representing the 11th District.
“I think it’s a strength,” Mooney said in a separate phone interview Monday night. “She’s going to have the experience and the connections to handle herself well in Congress.”
Ohio’s 11th Congressional District is a majority-Black region anchored in Cleveland that has become a generational seat in the U.S. House.
Since 1993, only three people have represented the district: the late Rep. Louis Stokes; the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones; and Fudge — three Black leaders.
“Those are big shoes to fill,” Mooney said, “but I think [Turner’s] best suited to sustain that legacy.”
Because of Turner’s national profile and time on the road campaigning for Sanders, there was speculation early on in the race that she would struggle to regain local support. But Turner has now been endorsed by four members of the Cleveland City Council, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and several other local officials.
“She’s the same Nina that was here before,” Cleveland said.
Turner is one of at least seven Democrats vying to win the special election primary set for Aug. 3. Because the 11th District is drawn to heavily favor Democrats, the winner of the primary is all but guaranteed to win the special election on Nov. 2.
While Turner leads the field in fundraising and continues to grow her endorsement list, she faces competition from Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, who considers Fudge a close mentor and has amassed her own list of local endorsements.
The other Democrats in the field are: Former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, former State Senator and State Rep. Shirley Smith, former State Rep. John Barnes Jr., former State Rep. Bryan Flannery, and Navy veteran and activist Tariq Shabazz.
On the Republican ticket, businesswoman and activist Laverne Gore is running again. She lost to Fudge in 2020 by 60 points.