CLEVELAND — When News broke Tuesday that the President-elect Joe Biden was set to name Northeast Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to the Cabinet post of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Congressman Tim Ryan was among the first to offer his congratulations.
"I'm super pumped about it as a friend but also as a congressperson here in Ohio,” Ryan told News 5. “I’m just thrilled that we're going to have that kind of advocate, someone we can pick up the phone and call to help our local communities. It's going to really really important,” he said. "I think whether you're a big city or a small city you're going to benefit from Marcia Fudge being the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development."
Fudge was thrust into the congressional spotlight in 2008 when she was serving as Warrensville Heights mayor and was chosen to fill the seat of her friend and former boss Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones when she died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. The late Congressman Lou Stokes, who held the seat for 30 years, chose Tubbs Jones as his successor and played a big role in the selection of Fudge as well.
When Fudge was serving as chair of the Democratic National Convention in 2016 News 5 asked her if she would be thinking of them from the podium.
"Very, very much,” Fudge said. “See you're going to make me cry now. Very much they are two people, of course, you know who I love dearly who have shepherded me through this process yes I do."
Because in 2008 Stephanie Tubbs Jones died after the primary and before the general election the precinct committee of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party was able to nominate and appoint a person to take her place on the ballot which was Fudge. So she was technically elected to a new term starting January of 2009 before she won the November 18 special election that year to fill the remaining two months of the unexpired term. A move that gave her seniority over the incoming class of freshman legislators.
Under state law this time there will be a primary in February or March then a special election a month after to fill the seat. Among names being mentioned as possible candidates former State Senator and top Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner, former Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church Pastor Jawanza Colvin, the man who replaced Fudge as mayor of Warrensville Heights former Chicago Bull Brad Sellers and Cuyahoga County Councilwoman and County Democratic Party Chair Shontel Brown to name a few.
Brown for her part among the first to say she's interested. “Absolutely, absolutely,” she told News 5.
“I already have a team that I put together, we have been very respectful of the process and protocols. I adore and have a tremendous amount of respect for our Congresswoman Marcia Fudge so I want to make sure all of our ducks are in a row.”
News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University said the wild card will be Fudge herself.
"The real question is going to be what will Marcia Fudge do in the context of getting involved and perhaps anointing someone in the way that she was by Lou Stokes and that really could be anyone's guess,” Sutton said.
For her part, Brown believes based on conversations she’s had with Fudge that she would be the one to get that backing.
“If that is allowable I do,” Brown said. “When you get into the cabinet position there are some things that may prohibit that but we’ll see how things go.”