Shontel Brown to leave role as Cuyahoga Democratic chair; Chris Ronayne wins county exec endorsement

Shontel Brown rides in a car in Cleveland's Labor Day parade in 2021
Shontel Brown announced Wednesday that she would not seek another term as Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair. Brown, who was elected to Congress last year, will defend her seat in the May primary against a challenge from Nina Turner. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]

Shontel Brown will give up her chairmanship of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party at the end of her term this year, the Congresswoman announced at a Wednesday night party meeting.

Brown has led the party since 2017. Party central committee members vote in June to elect a new chair.

“I’ve been blessed to now be your 11th Congressional District representative, something I work hard at every day to deliver for our community,” Brown said. “Because of that role, and because I believe we will have the party in excellent shape to continue moving forward, I am announcing today that I will not seek another term as chair.”

Brown will have to defend the U.S. House seat she won in last year’s special elections to replace HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. Nina Turner, Brown’s chief opponent last year, announced Wednesday that she would run for Congress again.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, party executive committee and city leaders endorsed Chris Ronayne for county executive. Ronayne won almost 93 percent of the 459 votes cast.

Former state Sen. Shirley Smith won about 4 percent of the vote, and another 3 percent abstained. Tariq Shabazz, a Navy veteran who is also running for county executive, did not receive a nomination from party members to be considered for an endorsement.

“It’s an important race unto itself: 1.2 million people here in Cuyahoga County. Hundreds of thousands of persons served very directly by Cuyahoga County services. And if you’re not directly served, there’s some way indirectly that the county touches your lives in Cuyahoga County,” Ronayne said. “That’s why I think we need a person with experience and results to do this job.”

The winner of the May 3 Democratic primary will face Republican county executive candidate Lee Weingart in November.

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