Friday, December 30, 2011

Rep. Fudge offers olive branch after State Sen. Nina Turner withdraws from congressional race, Turner's colleagues say it strengthens Black community

Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland)

U. S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH)

By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C.-State Sen. Nina Turner (D-25) on Fri. withdrew from next year's March 6 Democratic primary in a fight for a seat representing the 11th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-11) that lost momentum after Fudge won endorsements from practically every Democratic elected official in her predominantly Black district.

Pursuant to a new congressional map unleashed last week that brought roughly 200,000 more constituents, Ohio's 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs in Cuyahoga County, now stretches south of Cleveland some 35 miles and includes a majority Black pocket of Akron, and staggering sections of its suburbs in Summit County.

A Warrensville Hts. Democrat, Fudge was big time about it, immediately offering an olive branch to Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, former Cleveland Ward 1 councilwoman, and protege of former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White.

"I have great respect for State Senator Nina Turner and I wish her well in future endeavors," the congresswoman said in a press release to Cleveland Urban News.Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com. "It is my intention to maintain the trust and confidence of the people of the 11th Congressional District. It is my honor and privilege to serve them."

Turner, who dissappointed Cleveland's Old Black Political Guard when she took on Fudge and entered the race earlier this month as another Black woman and prominent Black elected political official of Cuyahoga County, billed her departure as a by product of a fast approaching Democratic primary and what she said were discrepancies with the new congressional map.

That controversial map, dubbed House Bill 369, was drawn by the Republican controlled Ohio House of Representatives as state law requires and was signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich last week, after passing the Ohio House and Senate.

Turner says that HB 369, which reduces Ohio's congressional seats from 18 to 16 due to declining population growth with the intent for Republicans to win 12 seats and Democrats four., "was manipulated to allow incumbent politicians to guarantee their reelection," rationale that she did not explain in her press release.

Turner's Black Cleveland colleagues in the Ohio legislature were as pleased as Fudge at her decision to leave the race and said that the resolution between the two Black women, both with a cadre of supporters in their own right, strengthens the Black community and its political base.

"It is good to see the African- American community come together around Congresswoman Marcia Fudge," said State rep. Bill Patmon (D-10), who had endorsed Fudge. "This strengthens African- American representation in the region."

State rep. John Barnes Jr. (D-12), a Cleveland Democrat who endorsed Fudge too, agreed.

"It is good for Cleveland and for the region," Barnes said.

But Community Activist Art McKoy, who leads Black on Black Crime Inc, said that Turner's entrance into the congressional race tapped an appetizing side of Fudge that was waiting in the wings, and that that too is good for the community, but from a different perspective.

"I like both of them, and competition in football, basketball and politics is good." said McKoy. "Marcia Fudge went from a poodle to a pit bull when Nina Turner got in the race."

Turner was Fudge's only challenger for the Democratic primary.

Though prospective candidates for Ohio Congressional races had until Fri., Dec. 30 to file petitions due to an extended deadline since Dec. 7 since the new congressional map was just recently released, no significant opposition is expected.

And the chances of a Republican winning in the heavily Democratic district in November's general election are slim to none.

Asked if the lawmaker's exit from the race helped or hurt her political career, Patmon said the latter.

"It always hurts when you move out and then turn back on your word because in politics all you have is your word," he said.

Turner's exit follows the announcement by 10th Congressional District Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat, to take on 9th District Toledo Democrat Marcy Kaptur, who was handed an edge when their congressional districts were merged into one in the new congressional map and 47 percent of Kucinich's district went to Kaptur.

Barnes, Patmon and other Black leaders like retired U.S. Rep Louis Stokes of Shaker Hts. and Cleveland NAACP President George Forbes feared that Kucinich would jump in the race against Fudge and fought publicly and behind the scenes against it, and at least Patmon said that Turner's choice to initially run against Fudge was to help Kucinich if he decided to seek the 11th Congressional District seat, something Turner denied outright.

"Rep. Kuncinich will not be in the 11th Congressional District race," she told Cleveland Urban Weekly.Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com during an interview earlier this year.

Congressional candidates do not have to live in their residential districts, though under Ohio law members of the state legislature do.

Reach Kathy Wray Coleman by email at kathy@kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com, and by telephone at 216-932-3114.