In case you were tuning out the news during the holiday weekend, one big local story was dumped into the news purgatory of a Friday before a holiday weekend: state senator Nina Turner dropped her challenge to incumbent congresswoman Marcia Fudge in the 11th district Democratic primary. Since the eastern Cuyahoga district is overwhelmingly Democratic, the March 6 primary is essentially the general election for this seat.
Turner launched her long-rumored challenge in October, following the unveiling of the new congressional map in mid-September. That map was re-passed in a slightly altered form just before the holidays, but didn’t dramatically change the odd reformatting of the 11th district, which now includes a small chunk of Akron linked by a long, thin corridor through northern Summit County. Turner said in her statement announcing her withdrawal, “The redistricting process was manipulated to allow incumbent politicians to guarantee their re-election.” It’s unclear how this factored into her decision since the map drawn before she announced did the same thing.
Congresswoman Fudge released a brief statement saying, “I have great respect for State Senator Nina Turner and I wish her well in her future endeavors. It is my intention to maintain the trust and confidence of the people of the 11th Congressional District and provide the representation they deserve. It is my honor and privilege to serve them. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to be their voice in Congress.”
Although Fudge was always the clear favorite, having earned the endorsements of virtually every significant Ohio Democrat from state Democratic chair Chris Redfern to Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald to fellow congressperson Tim Ryan of Youngstown, Turner exiting the race leaves her with only nominal opposition. Others who have filed to run in the Democratic primary include two perennial candidates — former Cleveland school board member Gerald Henley, who ran for the District 8 county council seat as an independent in 2010, finishing last in a field of three with less than five percent of the vote, and Isaac Powell, who came in last in a field of eight in the primary for the District 9 county council seat. Powell also challenged Fudge in the 2008 and 2010 primaries, while Henley ran in the 2008 primary — both brought up the back of the pack. An unknown named Marie Jefferson has also filed.
While the Plain Dealer suggested that Turner “left open” the option of running as an independent, her statement didn’t appear to suggest that, and it seems like far-fetched move for the proud Democrat whose splashy personal web site identifies her on the top of the home page as “Nina Turner/Ohio Senator: Democrat.” — Anastasia Pantsios