Shontel Brown defeats Nina Turner in a high-profile Ohio special House election
  • Shontel Brown defeated Nina Turner in the special Democratic primary election in Ohio’s 11th District.
  • The safely-Democratic, Cleveland-based seat was formerly held by HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge.
  • Polls in Ohio closed at 7:30 pm ET. Follow along for more live election results. 

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Cuyahoga County Council member Shontel Brown will defeat former state Sen. Nina Turner in the multicandidate Democratic primary for the special election in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, Decision Desk HQ projects.

In March, the seat was vacated by then-Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, who stepped down to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Joe Biden.

The racially diverse, reliably Democratic 11th district stretches from Cleveland’s east side to Akron, with a mix of working-to-upper-middle-class suburbs including Euclid and Shaker Heights. The district backed Biden by a margin of 60 percentage points, 79.8 to 19.2%, over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Brown will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Nov. 2 general election.

“I am eternally grateful,” she told a group of supporters on Tuesday night. “I am completely overwhelmed by all of you that have showed up and showed out on my behalf. This was a collaborative partnership of the community.”

She added: “This isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. This is about making progress. Sometimes, it takes compromise.”

Brown, who also chairs the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, promoted herself as an ally of Biden who would not shift the agenda of the narrow Democratic majority too far to the left. Her more moderate stances attracted the support of party stalwarts like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking Black lawmaker in Congress.

Shontel Brown

Shontel Brown, pictured, defeated Nina Turner in the special Democratic primary election for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Turner, who served on the Cleveland City Council from 2006 to 2008 and was a member of the Ohio Senate from 2008 to 2014, became a nationally-known figure as president of the political organization Our Revolution, which was spun off from the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and led the largest outside grassroots mobilization effort for her campaign.

Last year, Turner was a national co-chair for the 2020 Sanders presidential campaign, and she has been a leading voice for progressive issues, including a $15 minimum wage and student loan debt cancelation. She attracted the support of progressive stars such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri, who viewed her as a like-minded ally who would demand real accountability in Congress.

In her concession speech on Tuesday night, Turner urged her supporters to keep their eyes on the road ahead and castigated the influx of outside money in the race.

“It is ok to be sad tonight, but tomorrow, we must roll up our sleeves and continue to fight,” Turner said. “I want you to leave this celebration more resolute because we still have work to do.”

She added: “I am going to work hard to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen to another progressive candidate again. We didn’t lose this race, evil money manipulated and maligned this election.”

NPR reported on Tuesday that a Turner spokesperson revealed that the campaign raised roughly $5.7 million, while the Brown campaign took in about $2.6 million.

The race became increasingly heated in recent weeks, with Brown seeking to use Turner’s national profile against her, portraying the former state lawmaker as a Democrat who wouldn’t be a reliable partner with the White House. Turner rejected such assertions and recently released a pointed television advertisement that questioned Brown’s ethics.

While some groups have deemed the race as a proxy between moderate and progressive Democrats, the race is much more nuanced on the local level.

Turner and Brown have deep roots in the community, and both indicated that issues such as poverty and criminal justice reform would be major priorities if elected to office.

Turner spoke to Insider in March and explained the need to combat economic inequities, a huge issue in the Rust Belt district.

“Having one job should definitely be enough and we’ve got to work to make sure that’s the case,” she said. “COVID-19 has only exacerbated social, economic, racial, and environmental fissures, and we need to center poor people and working-class people in a way that gives them a shot to live their measure of the American dream. This is going to require us to see the system through a different lens.”

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