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Bryan Flannery Joins Bid For Marcia Fudge's House Seat

Former state Rep. Bryan Flannery formally launched his campaign for Marcia Fudge’s U.S. House seat on Tuesday.

Flannery began his Zoom announcement by mentioning what he called “the big elephant in the room:” that he is the only white candidate running in the 53-percent Black 11th Congressional District.

“I acknowledge I am white,” he said. “But I’m also the tallest person in this campaign, probably the heaviest. I wear a size 15 shoe, probably the biggest shoe size in the campaign and in this race. But I’m also a father and I’m a husband. And I also have experience in the public and the private sector.”

Flannery is entering an already-crowded Democratic primary field that includes former state Sen. Nina Turner, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, former State Sen. Shirley Smith, former State Rep. John Barnes and Navy veteran Tariq Shabazz.

That Aug. 3 special primary will likely determine who will serve out Fudge’s term in the heavily Democratic district that includes parts of Cleveland and Akron.

Flannery suggested he was not hoping to win by consolidating white voters while Black voters were divided among several other candidates. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying he hoped voters would judge candidates on “the content of their character,” not skin color.

“I’m going to focus this campaign on the demographics of the district: the Blacks, the whites, the Asians, the Hispanics, the Bhutanese, the gay, lesbian, LGBTQIA, the union workers, non-union workers, the frequent voters and the first time voters,” he said. “And especially the Biden supporters.”

If elected, Flannery said he would vote to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and to approve President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“I’m not running for Congress to join a ‘Squad,’” Flannery said, in a reference to a small group of progressive members of Congress, several of whom have endorsed Turner. “I’m running to be a member of the Team Biden.”

A graduate of St. Edward High School and the University of Notre Dame, Flannery served on Lakewood City Council and in the Ohio House. In 2006, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor, losing by 59 points to Ted Strickland.

Fudge stepped down after the Senate confirmed her as President Biden’s the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 11th Congressional District seat was previously held by Democratic Reps. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Louis Stokes.

The general election is scheduled for Nov 2. The filing deadline for candidates is May 5.

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