WASHINGTON, D. C. — President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown’s bid for re-election in her hotly contested primary rematch with former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner.
“Shontel Brown has been an ardent advocate for the people of Ohio and a true partner in Congress,” the president said in a statement. “We need leaders like Shontel to help continue the fight to respond to this pandemic, lower costs for working families, and rebuild the middle class. Shontel is committed to building a better America. I am proud to endorse Shontel Brown for Ohio’s 11th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Brown issued a statement thanking Biden for his support.
“From day one, I promised to work with the President and his administration to deliver for the people of Northeast Ohio and bring economic relief and quality health care to all Americans,” she said. “That is why I have helped advance key parts of the President’s agenda like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, bringing good-paying jobs to our state, and repairing our roads, bridges, and rails. I will continue to be a unifying leader in Congress as I work with President Biden to deliver for the people of the 11th Congressional District.”
The battle between Brown and Turner is seen as a microcosm of national tensions between the Democratic Party’s progressive and establishment wings.
Turner was a co-chair of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, and famously compared supporting Biden to eating a bowl of excrement. She is endorsed by Sanders, and progressive Democratic politicians including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. Some of her local backers include former Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and former U.S. Rep. Mary Rose Oakar.
Brown, a former Cuyahoga County council member who chairs the county Democratic party, is endorsed by all of Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Congress members, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, among others. House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is scheduled to make campaign appearances for Brown this weekend. She is a protégé of her congressional predecessor, Marcia Fudge, who left the seat to become Biden’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
When Brown and Turner faced off in last year’s Democratic primary for the seat Fudge vacated, Brown won 50.2 percent of the vote, compared with 44.5 percent for Turner. Brown easily defeated Republican Laverne Gore in the November general election. The district is the state’s most demographically Democratic, so the winner of the Democratic primary typically wins the seat.
Turner hopes the redrawn district’s new boundaries will result in a new outcome on May 3. When the Ohio Redistricting Commission redrew the 11th district’s congressional map, it dropped portions of Summit County it once encompassed and added parts of Cuyahoga County that weren’t in the old district, such as Lakewood and sections of the Hillcrest area. Turner says voters in the district’s new areas should get a chance to weigh in on who will represent them.
Turner’s campaign manager, Kara Turrentine, responded to Biden’s endorsement by issuing a statement that said the gains made in the early part of Biden’s administration are “under attack by the same special interests and corporate politicians who are attacking Nina Turner’s candidacy.
“From universal healthcare, paid family leave, voting rights, police reform and cancelling student debt –Greater Cleveland understands that change will not happen unless we elect someone who is willing to put it all on the line,” Turrentine continued. “ ‘Business as usual’ will not deliver the change our community needs.”
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