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Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge Endorses Kamala Harris For President

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland discussing the push to raise the federal minimum wage in 2014. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland discussing the push to raise the federal minimum wage in 2014.

Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is endorsing California Sen. Kamala Harris in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

Fudge says she watched Harris communicate and connect with people at the recent Cuyahoga County Democrats dinner.

"Everybody was talking about how warm she was and how nice she was," Fudge said. "I mean, it was instant that people liked her and I've seen her do it in South Carolina, in Washington D.C."

Harris was the keynote speaker at the April dinner, though her appearance was almost derailed by a labor dispute. At the last minute, local labor leaders called off a planned protest after reaching an agreement with the county to preserve the jobs of nurses at the county jail. Harris’s campaign said she would not cross a picket line to speak.

Fudge says Harris being an African-American woman was important to her. She said black women have been strong building blocks for the Democratic Party and it's time they get their due.

"Especially if they're eminently qualified, which she is," Fudge told ideastream Thursday. "She has a very strong background, not too dissimilar from mine. I worked at a prosecutor's office for ten years, she was a prosecutor."

Fudge’s endorsement of Harris makes a total of 10 endorsements for the California senator from members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the most any in the broad field of Democrats has collected so far. Former Vice President Joe Biden comes the closest with seven CBC members and Sen. Cory Booker has two both from his home state of New Jersey.

Fudge believes criticism of Harris from other Democrats about her prosecutorial work is unfair.

"You would believe that black people are not law and order people, but we are," Fudge said. "You would believe that we don't want safe neighborhoods, but we do. And that is what prosecutors do. And you would also then believe that no one wants to fight for black victims and she does.

"Her diversion programs, which became a model for most of the country, her training programs for the formerly incarcerated," Fudge said. "She's done a lot to distinguish herself from just the run-of-the-mill kind of elected official."

Fudge believes her endorsement might help whittle down the number of Democrats running.

"I think it is time for us to start narrowing down this field," Fudge said. "People that I talk to every day are saying 'when are we going to get down to three or four, or four or five. The field is too large, we don't know what to do.' Everybody is sitting back waiting."

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper dropped out of the race today.

The next Democratic debates will be held Sept. 12 and 13 in Houston.

Glenn Forbes is supervising producer of newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.