Courtesy Sen. Nina Turner
Nina Turner, widely considered to be one of two frontrunners in the race to replace Marcia Fudge in Ohio's 11th congressional district, announced that she raised $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2021, for a total campaign haul of $2.2 million. So far, more than 77,000 individual donors from all 50 states and Washington D.C. have contributed to her campaign.
In a media conference call, Turner said that the significant fundraising, fueled by grassroots donations in the final days of March, demonstrated that she has the clout to build a broad coalition and win the race.
Ohio, in fact, was not the state with the most contributions to the Turner campaign. That distinction is held by California. Turner said that given her national reputation from her activist work, it's natural that donations would be coming in from outside the district. And she said that this was not inappropriate. As a congressperson, she said, she intends to fight not only for the 11th district, but for residents across Ohio and across the country.
"It's a combination of the local and national support, and the push from the grassroots, that allowed us not only to meet, but exceed our [fundraising] goals," she said.
Contributions averaged $28, Turner said, indicating support at the grassroots level. A campaign press release noted that the professions most represented among donors were teachers, retail workers and healthcare workers.
"When I think about the money invested in this campaign," Turner said, "I know that every $3, $11 or even $27 is money that folks could have been spending on other things they need, whether that's a tank of gas or a meal. Our campaign does not take lightly these donations, and the sacrifices that people are making to turbo-boost this campaign."
Turner also said that with the high-profile endorsements last week from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and councilman Blaine Griffin (widely considered Kevin Kelley's heir apparent as City Council President), she is proving that the "progressive vs. establishment" narrative between her and opponent Shontel Brown is too reductive.
"There are seven people in the race, and I know that people want to narrow it down to two, but I want to acknowledge that," she said, when a question on the subject was posed on the call. "It was a false narrative, and the endorsement of the Mayor and Councilman Griffin just reinforced that. Things are not just as cut and dry as who's on the progressive side and who's on the neoliberal or more moderate side. It's about forging bridges, and the complexities of the needs in this community."
Turner said that her background of fighting for causes that people care about will give her a broad spectrum of support and said that in congress her focus will be on fighting for policies that change the material conditions of people in the 11th district and nationwide.
When asked about President Joe Biden's recent American Rescue Plan, she characterized it as a good start, but said more will have to be done to stand up for poor and working people.
"Obviously I would have liked to see the $15 minimum wage in there," she said. "That's the floor, not the ceiling."
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.