Several prominent progressives have already signaled their support for Nina Turner, the former co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, in her bid to fill the seat, Politico reported.
Fudge, a fixture in Ohio’s 11th district since 2008, is leaving her longtime role in Congress to serve in President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet as secretary of housing and urban development.
Turner’s early base of support includes her former fellow co-chair of the Sanders campaign, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Black Lives Matter activist and Missouri Representative-elect Cori Bush, actor Danny Glover, as well as Progressive PACS Democracy for America and Our Revolution.
“Nina will bring a phenomenal commitment to a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All and free public college. I am all in for her,” Khanna said in a statement to Politico. “This is an endorsement of conviction. I will be emailing my list, raising money and mobilizing volunteers.”
Since Ohio’s 11th congressional district leans heavily toward the Democratic Party, the winner of the primary is expected to win the special election. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will set a date for a special election to replace Fudge if she is confirmed as HUD secretary.
A special election is expected to draw a number of Democratic contenders, including former Cleveland city councilman Jeff Johnson. A vocal Biden supporter, Johnson recently suggested in an interview with Buzzfeed News that his more moderate stance would allow for closer collaboration with the incoming administration.
Turner was a vocal critic of Biden in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Last January, she authored an op-ed accusing Biden of having “repeatedly betrayed black voters.” When Biden won the Democratic Party’s nomination, Turner compared voting for him to eating “a bowl of [expletive].”
Turner confirmed her intent to run for Fudge’s House seat on Tuesday.
“I want to serve as your next congresswoman because I believe that everyone deserves a good job, health care, and our children deserve to be educated from pre-K to college,” Turner said in a video posted to her Twitter account. “I will go to Congress to help our community recover from the coronavirus, including helping small business and those who have been hardest hit.”
In-fighting in the Democratic Party emerged after the 2020 election. Several moderate Democrats, including Biden himself, have suggested that Republicans capitalized on progressive messaging on issues such as police reform to chip away at the Democratic Party’s majority in the House.