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Nina Turner Launches Run For Marcia Fudge's U.S. House Seat

In this Jan. 4, 2020 file photo former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner introduces then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during a campaign event, in Mason City, Iowa. After more than a decade of politics, Turner has remained committed to progressive reforms and speaking on behalf of marginalized groups in her newest political venture – launching Amare Public Affairs, an Ohio-based public affairs firm. [AP File Photo / Patrick Semansky]
In this Jan. 4, 2020 AP file photo former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner introduces then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during a campaign event, in Mason City, Iowa.

Nina Turner, the former state senator who became a high-profile supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bids, is making a run to represent Cleveland and Akron in Congress.

Turner announced her plans in an online call with local reporters Tuesday. Last week, she formed a committee to raise money for the campaign.

“The suffering is real in this community and it’s real in this country,” she said. “And I plan to continue to stand up and do what is right, what is just and what’s good.”

Democrat Rep. Marcia Fudge will leave her 11 th Congressional District seat to become President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development when he takes office next year.

Two other candidates have already announced bids to replace Fudge: Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair Shontel Brown and former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson.

Turner on Tuesday emphasized her connections to the district as a graduate of Cleveland State University and former professor at Cuyahoga Community College. She served on Cleveland City Council before moving on to the statehouse.

Turner lost her race as the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in 2014. During the 2016 primary, she became a vocal surrogate for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, later leading Our Revolution, the political group that spun off from his bid. She was a national co-chair for his campaign in 2020.

As a member of Congress, Turner said, she would push to raise the minimum wage, deliver more coronavirus aid and address inequities in the criminal justice system.

“I do understand the dynamics of the injustices that are going on in the criminal justice system, not just at the hands of law enforcement, but the entire system itself,” she said, adding that her husband is a retired police officer and her son works in law enforcement.

In a news release after the call, Turner’s campaign touted early endorsements from former colleagues state Sens. Sandra Williams and Kenny Yuko and former state Sen. Eric Kearney.

Also endorsing Turner were Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to county Democratic party leadership in 2018, and Akron City Councilwoman Tara Samples, Dennis Kucinich’s running mate in the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial race.

Gov. Mike DeWine has not yet set a date for the next year’s special election to replace Fudge. But Turner predicted that whenever it’s held, the race will draw significant national attention following the Senate runoffs in Georgia.

“After the Jan. 5 runoff in Georgia, this will be the hottest ticket in the nation,” she said. “So all eyes will be on the 11th Congressional District, and I am here for it.”

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.