CLEVELAND — There is an axiom in politics, define your opponent before your opponent has a chance to define themselves. It is something that is on full display right now in the race for the 11th Congressional seat where the positive, "get to know me" ads are giving way to the more negative.
The campaign of Nina Turner is out with an ad attacking Shontel Brown, alleging she used her seat on Cuyahoga County Council to enrich friends, family and herself.
"On council, Brown voted to give more than $32 million in taxpayer contracts to a company connected to her boyfriend and family. She even voted to give herself a $7,000 pay raise for a part-time job on council," the Turner ad said of Brown.
County Council President Pernel Jones sees that as an attack on the entire council and their practices.
"I'm telling you there is nothing improper that is being done," Jones said. "To say that is untrue."
Jones was joined by Members of the Cleveland Clergy Coalition, who are supporting Brown in her run, to denounce the negative ads.
"Shontel Brown has not run one negative ad through her campaign," said longtime Cleveland Religious leader Rev. Marvin McMickle.
"Through her campaign" being the operative words in that statement. A pro-Israel PAC, Democratic Majority for Israel has been running them on her behalf, Turner says, distorting her record.
Turner's campaign is standing by the claims, telling News 5 in a statement "after Shontel Brown and her out of state allies have run weeks of dishonest negative attack ads, Shontel Brown is in no position to complain about truthful ads that raise serious questions about her tenure in office."
With the amount of national attention, interest and money in this race, News 5 Political Analyst Tom Sutton says this is to be expected.
"That outside money is a big factor in the race on both sides, and with that said money, you get an increasingly abrasive campaign on both sides," Sutton said.
But might the negative attacks against Turner and Brown open the door for one of the other 11 hopefuls on the Democratic ballot?
"I think you may see people do that especially when you look at on-the-ground relationships, people who know Jeff Johnson or some of these other candidates like Tariq Shabazz or even Seth Corey, who have isolated areas of support," Sutton said. "But will that surmount the kind of support that will likely go to Brown and Turner? I doubt it. I think we'll have neither of them will get 50% plus, but it will be one of those two and then there will be a 5% here, a 3% there, and a lot of others with probably one or less percent of the vote in the final tally."