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Rep. Shontel Brown picks up endorsement from Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb

Rep. Shontel Brown and Mayor Justin Bibb speak with Cleveland students on Tuesday. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]
Rep. Shontel Brown and Mayor Justin Bibb speak with Cleveland students on Tuesday.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb is backing Rep. Shontel Brown in her bid to hold onto the Congressional seat she won in last year’s special election.

Bibb and Brown announced the endorsement Tuesday afternoon before an audience of students in the library of John Adams College & Career Academy on the city’s southeast side.

“I am so happy that I not only have a congresswoman, but a sister and a friend, that goes to Washington, D.C., every single day to work with President Biden and other leaders in D.C. to make sure that Cleveland gets its fair share of resources,” Bibb said.

Bibb said he and Brown got to know each other several years ago on a trip to Israel when their flight to Tel Aviv was delayed for hours. Brown recounted a similar story during Bibb’s swearing-in ceremony last month.

When Bibb was running for mayor last year, he did not weigh in on the special election to fill HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s seat in Congress. But he did receive an endorsement from Brown’s main opponent, former state Sen. Nina Turner, who is running for the seat again.

Tuesday’s endorsement dismayed some of Bibb’s more progressive supporters who are sympathetic to Turner’s campaign. Asked by reporters about his decision to back Brown, Bibb said Brown had “the right relationships with the Biden administration” to secure federal support for Cleveland.  

“Fighting for our fair share of resources is critical for me as mayor, and Congresswoman Brown has been fighting since she’s gotten to Washington, D.C., to make sure Cleveland gets its fair share of resources and investments,” Bibb said.

Last year, Fudge’s elevation to the Biden cabinet left an open seat in Congress, drawing more than a dozen candidates hoping to serve out the remainder of her term. In that election, it was Turner who had the support of the mayor of Cleveland, Frank Jackson.

But now Brown is running for reelection with the power of incumbency on her side. She told reporters that she had been reaching out to people who did not endorse her in last year’s contest.

“I’m proud to say my coalition has expanded both locally and nationally,” Brown said, “and I think you can expect to see more endorsements rolling out in the future.”

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.