Shontel Brown Wins Congressional Primary to Succeed Marcia Fudge, Nina Turner Vows to Continue Fighting

click to enlarge Nina Turner delivers concession speech at election night watch party (8/3/21). - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Nina Turner delivers concession speech at election night watch party (8/3/21).

Shontel Brown, a Cuyahoga County Councilwoman and Chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, won the special election to succeed Congresswoman Marcia Fudge Tuesday. After the most expensive congressional primary of the year and an avalanche of direct mail and TV and radio advertising, Brown capitalized on nearly $2 million in PAC spending by the Democratic Majority for Israel and secured commanding victories in the east side suburbs to defeat her main opponent, Nina Turner.

Turner had been the early heavy favorite in the race. Her national profile and substantial fundraising far outpaced Shontel Brown. She amassed key local endorsements as well, including from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

But on Tuesday, Turner's modest wins in the City of Cleveland and Cleveland Heights could not overcome Brown's strong performance in her home suburb of Warrensville Heights; in Shaker Heights and University Heights; and in Beachwood, Orange and Pepper Pike, where she won more than 70% of the vote.

Turner, in her concession speech, thanked her family and staff members and all those who volunteered for her campaign. She emphasized that her campaign was and would continue to be about advocating on behalf of the poor, working class and "barely middle class." 

"Those of us fighting ... have been on a long justice journey through a desert of despair, indifference, inequality and racism," she said. "Tonight, my friends, we have looked across at the promised land. But for this campaign, on this night, we will not cross the river. Tonight, our justice journey continues. And I am proud to continue that journey with each and every one of you. We will continue this journey until every working person earns a living wage, including passing a $15.00 minimum wage. We will continue this journey until every person has health care as a right and not a privilege. We will continue this journey until children's destinies are not determined by their zip code or the color of their skin. We will continue this journey until we have torn down racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and every kind of hatred and discrimination. We will continue this journey until justice is equal for every person in this country. And this journey will continue until we have ensured that this planet will be habitable for our children and our grandchildren."

Turner urged those gathered not to "leave sad." She said that the movement was bigger than one person, one race, and vowed to continue fighting "with every fiber of her being."

"This ain't over," she said.

Brown, who secured high-profile political endorsements from Hillary Clinton and South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, thanked her supporters at an election night event in Bedford. She stressed her campaign's central message: working with the Joe Biden administration in order to deliver resources to Northeast Ohio. 

"I do this work for the people," she said in her victory speech. "That has always been my foundation. That has always been my moral compass. That has always been my guiding force in this work that I intentionally describe as public service because I know I work for you."

The victory for Brown was explicitly understood as a victory for Pro-Israel policy in congress. Pro-Israel America Executive Director Jeff Mendelsohn issued the following statement in response to her win:

“Pro-Israel America congratulates Shontel Brown on her big primary victory today and looks forward to working with her in Congress. Brown’s significant and consistent lead throughout the night proves once again that support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is not only good policy, but good politics. Brown rejected the divisive politics of her opponent and, as voters learned more about Brown and her policy positions throughout the race, they increasingly supported her campaign.

"We endorsed Brown early in her campaign because we recognized her sincere and heartfelt support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we’re happy to have joined so many prominent supporters ... to help her defeat Nina Turner, an opponent who aligned herself with some of the most vocal detractors of the U.S.-Israel alliance."

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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