One of the nastiest Democratic Congressional primaries from 2021, which pit two Black women against each other, is now set for a rematch.
Former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner, a Bernie Sanders supporter from the liberal wing of her party, announced she’ll challenge incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown this year for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District seat, which includes a Cleveland and several suburbs.
When the two squared off two years ago for the right to assume the seat left behind after former Rep. Marcia Fudge decamped for Washington to bed the Biden administration’s HUD secretary, it got ugly.
The Congressional Black Caucus and other party-line Dems made it clear they supported Brown over Turner. Turner famously compared a vote for Biden to eating half a bowl of shit. A white Biden surrogate set the internet on fire by using the phrase “angry Black woman” as she was trying to apologize to Turner for whitesplaining her interpretation of MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
When it was all over, Brown won by just over 4,000 votes. But now a new Congressional map is being drawn and Turner thinks she can win the day.
However, plenty has and will chanue before the scheduled May 3 primary. Those new district lines will include suburbs, but most of the district will be Cleveland, where Turner outran Brown by 10 percentage points. In 2021, Cleveland accounted for just one-third of the district.
Turnout was also meager in the 2021 primary at around 77,000 people. That was about the same number as 2020 when Fudge ran against only token opposition but higher than the 2018 midterms when Fudge ran unopposed and collected around 66,000 votes.
“It’s not a special election, for sure. There will be more people participating in this election cycle,” Turner said. “College students will be back. I just believe because so much is on the ballot in Ohio and across the country – the Senate races, the statewide constitutional offices – more people are going to participate in this election cycle.”
No matter who wins in the primary, it’s likely that Cleveland will continue to be represented by a Black woman in Congress. Even if a third name emerged in the Democratic primary, they’d likely be big underdogs to Brown and Turner, who have each been elected by Cleveland voters before. And the district has been reliably Democratic, which means a successful GOP challenge in the general election is unlikely.