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Meet Nina Turner, the firebrand Democrat taking the Ohio primaries by storm

In a competitive race for a Congressional seat, Nina Turner is hoping for a win against moderate rival Shontel Brown.

Meet Nina Turner, the firebrand Democrat taking the Ohio primaries by storm
Image Source: Presidential Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders And Rep. Ilhan Omar Hold Campaign Rally At University Of Minnesota. MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 03. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

The state of Ohio is all set to hold a special Democratic primary next week, and one Democrat has risen as a strong contender. Nina Turner, a former Ohio State Senator, is expected to win over the 11th Congressional District. Her preexisting political celebrity status, along with endorsements from progressive bigwigs on Capitol Hill such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has brought the local election national recognition. The race is now quickly tightening between Turner and competitor Shontel Brown, who though also a Democrat, has been viewed as more moderate, multiple sources report.


The seat has been occupied by Black women since 1999, and voters in the district are well aware of this fact. This, coupled with the fierce competition between Turner and Brown, has made the upcoming election more than just a local race. Members of the Squad, the progressive faction of Congress, hope they will be joined by the former State Senator. For instance, Ocasio-Cortez recently attended an event in support of Turner last week. "We need Nina," she affirmed as part of her pep talk. "I need Nina. Please send me Nina!"


Turner was a pivotal icon for the New York House Representative, inspiring her own run for Congress years ago: "It woke something up in me, hearing what she had to say way back then. That was part of my journey." Senator Bernie Sanders, too, is hoping for a Turner win. He is expected to knock on doors and give speeches in Akron and Cleveland starting Friday. "I've gotten to know Nina Turner over the last five years," he shared in a news release announcing his upcoming stops. "She deeply cares for working families and she has the heart to be an effective, unwavering fighter for them in Congress. I am proud to endorse her candidacy."


The local politician-turned-national-firebrand is looking to win over her constituents with a deeply progressive campaign, unlike her competitor Brown. Although the Congressional Black Caucus has backed the latter candidate, progressive Political Action Committees (PACs) like the Working Families Party have come out in support of Turner. This is primarily because of her left-leaning campaign promises, from a $15 living wage and free education from kindergarten through college, to healthcare as a human right in the form of Medicare for All and the legalization of marijuana. She is also a proponent of the widely controversial Green New Deal.


Turner, who grew up as the oldest of seven children in a working-class family, made history in 2005 as the first African American woman to represent ward one on the Cleveland City Council. Additionally, it must be noted that she was the first woman to serve as the State Senator in Ohio’s 25th District. During her term, she protected workers' bargaining rights and championed criminal justice reform. At the moment, she stands as a foil to Brown, who has received, first, endorsements from "establishment politicians" such as Hillary Clinton, and second, funding from the GOP. With Election Day in four days, this race may just define the country's post-Trump political climate.


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