CLEVELAND — Former State Senator Nina Turner is setting up a rematch with Congresswoman Shontel Brown after announcing her plans to run in the Democratic primary on May 3 for the still to be drawn congressional district representing Cuyahoga County.
"The reasons that I ran last time during the special election, those reasons have not changed. I do firmly believe that the people of Greater Cleveland need and deserve a champion and this is not just about somebody that votes the right way but it is about true and deep service to the people," Turner told News 5. "So I am running to give people a choice in the Greater Cleveland district because that's what will call it the Greater Cleveland district."
Brown defeated Turner with a 50.1% to 44.5% margin in a crowded Democratic primary on August 3 of last year to fill the unexpired term of former Congresswoman Marcia Fudge who was tapped by President Joe Biden to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. When asked what has changed over the last six months to make her believe the results will be different Turner said for one thing the district, which is still in the process of being redrawn by the state legislature after the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the boundaries they came up with last fall.
"We might not be able to know all of the contours but it will be a new district and the people, especially in the newer part of the district, should have an opportunity to be able to have a choice," Turner said. The part of the district that will in all likelihood be lost is the part that took it down into Summit County into part of Akron, a part that Turner actually won in the primary.
Turner said she believed that had last year's primary been held in a traditional month like May instead of August the turnout would have been higher than the roughly 17% that they saw, the results would have been different.
"I remain pained, whether my name is on the ballot or not, that so many people have opted out of participating in the process because they have given up hope," Turner said that's why she believes this May will be different.
"All of the constitutional offices are up for election as you know so this is not just one special election happening in August," she said pointing to also the open U.S. Senate seat. "Hopefully more people will come out to vote."
In a statement released to News 5 Congresswoman Brown did not mention Turner by name but focused on her accomplishments over the last several months in Washington.
"My service on the Warrensville Heights Council, the Cuyahoga County Council, and now in Congress has always been about one thing: delivering for the people of Northeast Ohio. When I arrived in Congress two months ago, one of my first votes was to pass the infrastructure bill. I voted to bring jobs to Northeast Ohio, improve public transportation, deliver cleaner water to families, and expand broadband Internet access. I hit the ground running, and I look forward to continuing to fight and deliver for the 11th Congressional District," Rep. Brown's statement read.
Turner was leading in the early polls last year before she became the target of ads run by the pro-Israel PAC DMFI, Democratic Majority for Israel. Ads that changed the dynamic of the race. Is she prepared for a repeat in 2022?
"As much as one can be prepared for that kind of attack I often say that there's a difference between forces coming in to be supportive of a candidate and forces coming in to totally be against a candidate. Make no mistake there were 'anybody but Nina' campaigns in 2021people do know that and realize that. It is my sincere hope that we can just focus in on the issues and people can be pro their candidates, that's fine but bringing in that kind of money to be against anyone person and the way that they did it was totally wrong," Turner said.
Speaking of money Turner brought in and spent her fair share raising $6.2 million for the calendar year 2021, ninth-most among all U.S. House candidates according to the Federal Elections Commission, spending $6 million. The same FEC report found Brown raised just over $3 million spending $2.9 million. Does Turner believe the money will be there for this run?
"I think that it will. It won't be the same amount of money. Really it's a shame how much money one has to raise to even compete in races not just for Congress but it's becoming even more expensive to run for even school board races and that's why I'm a big proponent of campaign finance reform. But to directly answer your question I do believe that the support will be there," Turner said.
As for the political endorsements she enjoyed will they be back now that the seat is no longer an open one. "Well I hope, the dynamics of this race are a little different and I'm not naive to that but my reason for running is still the same so it is again my hope that I will garner that kind of support," she said.
In the first matchup between Turner and Brown it was a race cast as a referendum on Washington, Progressives vs. moderates, Bernie Sanders vs. Joe Biden in the end though it was a local election with a 17% turnout and so too will this election Turner said to be about Northeast Ohio concerns.
"I want to stay there on the local issues, let's talk about changing the material conditions of people, let's talk about their struggles, their hope and their dreams all of those things go together and for God's sake let's not let outside forces drown out those voices. That is a disservice to any constituency," she said.