Monday, July 01, 2013

Turner makes impressive first step on long road to statewide office

The rising star that is Nina Turner’s political career entered a new orbit this morning when the state senator from Cleveland’s eastside stood before an enthusiastic crowd of 200 supporters and officially made the long- expected announcement that she was indeed running for Secretary of State in the 2014 election.

Asserting that “Ohio needs to be the gold standard for elections,” Turner said her opponent, incumbent Secretary of State Jon Husted, was the nation’s best-known Secretary of State because of his partisan efforts to suppress the votes of Ohio citizens over the past two years.

Turner said that “everybody should have fair and equal access to the ballot” and that she would “rumble for righteousness” to produce that status for Ohio voters. By way of contrast, she denounced Husted as the “Secretary of Suppression”.

An impressive collection of elected officials and Democratic Party leaders joined Turner on stage for her announcement, including Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson, State Representative Nickie J. Antonio, D-13, county party chair Stuart Garson, and Chris Redfern, who chairs the Ohio Democratic Party and also serves in the Ohio House. All but Redfern spoke, in perhaps tacit acknowledgement of the state party’s mostly dismal record in support of African Americans who run statewide.

Jackson, whose eloquence generally goes unacknowledged because of his preference for pith to piety, said in introducing Turner that he had observed her career from its beginning, and that she had always been a “fierce advocate” and fervent “fighter” for the causes she believes in.

Turner was well prepared for today’s program. Her unusually smart professional appearance was noted by several of the veteran politicos in attendance.
State Sen. Nina Turner standing with youthful admirers after announcing her candidacy for Ohio Secretary of State. If she wins both a primary and the general election in 2014, she will become the first African American Democrat ever to win a statewide election.
“She has obviously stepped up her game,” said one, while another noted that was one of the benefits of running for statewide office. “Your network of supporters and advisers gets bigger”, he said.

The upfront support from Congresswoman Fudge and Mayor Jackson augur well for the huge local vote Turner will need if she is to become the first African American Democrat ever to win statewide office. Just last year Turner was publicly mulling a primary challenge to Fudge for the Eleventh District seat Fudge has held since 2008. And Turner stood virtually alone against the entire black political establishment in 2009 when she stumped for Issue 6, a reform measure that tossed out Cuyahoga County’s centuries-old system of governance that had rotted under old party leadership.

But today, standing in the Harvard Community Center, just a few blocks from the John F. Kennedy High School she graduated from as a first step to an eventual master’s degree from Cleveland State, and a position on the faculty of Cuyahoga Community College, Turner was surrounded and applauded by almost as many former political foes as longtime friends, including many labor and religious leaders who had sought to preserve the old-time political structures Turner was intent on demolishing.

As the first in her family to attend college, Turner likes to refer to herself as a “cycle-breaker”. If she goes to win the Democratic Party nomination next spring and then defeats the Republican incumbent in November 2014, she will be even more of a cycle-breaker. She will need a broad coalition of support to accomplish her goal. If the smoothness of today’s program and the support of those in attendance, who also included leaders of Cleveland’s feminist and gay communities, and key financial supporters, as well as political leaders from across northeast Ohio are any occasion, she is off to a good start in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult campaign.

Turner is scheduled to campaign later today in Toledo. She will be in Dayton tomorrow, Columbus on Wednesday, and Youngstown on Thursday, July 4.

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