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Northeast Ohio Democrats Line Up To Vie For Fudge's House Seat

Updated: 5:50 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020

Cleveland-area Democrats are leaping to fill the void in Congress that will be left by Rep. Marcia Fudge’s nomination to the Biden cabinet.

Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair Shontel Brown and Nina Turner, a top supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential run, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create campaign committees on Wednesday. Jeff Johnson, a former state lawmaker and city councilman, told ideastream he also is running for the seat.

President-elect Joe Biden announced Thursday that he will nominate Fudge to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Brown serves on Cuyahoga County Council and was elected to lead the county party in 2017. She is a former city council member from Warrensville Heights, where Fudge served as mayor from January 2000 until November 2008.

In an interview with ideastream, Brown said she’d built connections with people in the Cleveland area that would come in handy in Congress—and she said she could do the same in the Akron portion of the district.   

“As the chairwoman of the party, it has afforded me the opportunity to cultivate relationships throughout the county that will be valuable to making sure that the district is well served,” Brown said. 

Turner, a former state senator and Cleveland City Council member, became a leading surrogate for Sanders in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries. She led Our Revolution, a progressive political group that grew out of Sanders’ campaign.

Johnson, who ran for Cleveland mayor in 2017 and now serves as administrator for Cleveland Housing Court, emphasized his political experience and early support for Biden’s candidacy.

“It’s important for me to make it clear to the voters of the 11th District that I’m going to Washington to stand and support the Biden-Harris administration on behalf of the 11th District,” he said. “I believe in them.”

At the same time, he said he could appeal to more progressive voters, pointing to his support for raising the minimum wage in Cleveland.

Fudge has held the seat since 2008, when she replaced Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who died suddenly while in office.

Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, first represented by Louis Stokes, holds a prime position in Cleveland-area Black politics, currently stretching from Cleveland to Akron and including many of the majority-Black precincts for the two cities, though it will be redrawn during next year’s redistricting.

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.