This morning, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, of Cuyahoga County’s 11th district, drew a couple of hundred people to Phil the Fire restaurant in Beachwood for a hardly unexpected announcement: that she is filing to run again for the congressional seat she has held since the death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones in 2008. Unspoken but implied was that she was rolling out this show of strength in response to state senator Nina Turner’s filing to run against her in the Democratic primary.
The crowd included an army of local elected officials, labor union representatives, and clergy, as well as some of the biggest names in Ohio Democratic politics — a warning salvo to any challengers. State Democratic chairman Chris Redfern came in from Columbus, and Congressman Tim Ryan of Youngstown was present to support his colleague.
Redfern said “Tim Ryan and I are the only ones in this room who can’t vote for her.” That wasn’t precisely true. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who told the crowd, “With all the problems in Washington, I’m not sure why people want this job,” lives outside the district in Lakewood.
Among the constituents who showed up to support her were Cuyahoga County Democratic chair Stuart Garson; a half dozen mayors headed by Frank Jackson; numerous councilpeople from various cities in the district, including Jeff Johnson, Zachary Reed and Kevin Conwell from Cleveland; state legislators Shirley Smith, Armond Budish, and Bill Patmon; former county commissioner and former Shaker Heights High School classmate of Fudge’s Peter Lawson Jones; and Cuyahoga County Council President C. Ellen Connally. In addition, since Fudge’s district now includes a little piece of Akron (or at least it does under the current map, which could change as petitioners are now gathering signatures to repeal it), Summit County executive Russell Pry and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic have also endorsed her.
Fudge was introduced by former congressman Louis Stokes, who passed the seat on to Tubbs Jones after his retirement. He emphasized the importance of seniority in Congress, an edge that would be lost if Fudge were replaced. Fudge said her record “speaks for itself.” But she didn’t hesitate to speak for it as well, emphasizing her support of Social Security, Medicare, education, small business, and the environment, as well as events like her job fair at Cleveland State early this year, and her foreclosure remediation event at the Wolstein Center in 2009.
She made an oblique reference to the fiery Turner when she said of herself, “People say she’s quiet. I’m quiet because I’m listening. I’m not about sound bites — I’m about substance.” But when asked after her presentation to speak about her opponent, she said only that five people had filed to run in the district and that she “welcomed the challenge.” — Anastasia Pantsios