Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turner files to run against Fudge for Congress

State Senator Nina Turner filed petitions yesterday with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to run for the Democratic nomination for Congress from the newly-redistricted 11th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge.

Ohio’s federal primary election is presently scheduled for June 12, three months after the state’s primary for local and state offices. State Republican legislators created the second primary, at an estimated added cost of $15 million, to allow time to negotiate with Democrats over Ohio’s congressional remapping.

Ohio is losing two Congressional districts effective Jan. 2013 because the state’s population has grown more slowly than the rest of the nation.

Ohio Republicans have drawn the new Congressional map in a way that eliminates most inter-party competition and almost guarantees GOP wins in twelve of the districts. Democrats are believed to be currently pushing a 6-6-4 plan that would make six districts more competitive, favoring Republicans in only six districts, and Democrats in four.

Unless negotiations between Republican and Democratic state legislators result in an agreement this week to adjust  the GOP majority’s congressional map, it will be nearly impossible to hold both primaries on the same day, because the original filing date for partisan office is next Wednesday, December 7. Congressional candidates presently have until March 14 to file, but are likely to file by December 7 so as not be left out in the cold by any last-second legislative deal that might restore the single primary.

This is Ohio so of course it’s more complicated than that. Democrats are working to collect  hundreds of thousands of signatures [they need 231,150 valid ones] to delay implementation of the GOP’s 12-4 map and bring the issue before Ohio voters next November. And of course, court action by either party is a possibility.

Whatever the federal filing primary election dates turn out to be, the Fudge-Turner battle is certain to be fierce, and likely reshape the political landscape in the area as much as the GOP-gerrymandered map.


Anonymous said...

This will also suck up resources desperately needed elsewhere, create enemies and stoke animosities likely to threaten Democrats' electoral chances in Ohio next November. They are probably having a party over at Ohio Republican Party HQ today. Why do Democrats always find a way to commit political suicide?

Richard said...

Anonymous: I certainly understand your point of view, but there are strong countervailing views. I would ask, for example, why the 50 or 60,000 people who are new to the district should not have a choice. Many members of the current district believe they had little choice in 2008 when, they say, old guard Dems selected Marcia Fudge behind closed doors.
Is the Hon. Marcia Fudge entitled to 30 years in Congress just because she is there now?
I don't want to carry this further at this point because I don't want people to think I carry water for Sen. Turner. I certainly do not.

I could vote for either woman and be comfortable with most of the positions they are likely to take. But I am delighted there is a challenge.

Who would make a better Congresswoman for the 11th District? Why? The next three or six months should be about answering those questions.

creative genius said...

Good explanation of the current political situation.

Richard said...

@CG: Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Richard, hundreds of thousands of voters across the state didn't "have a choice" because voters were thrown into new districts willy-nilly by the new congressional map in the Republicans' push to create a map overwhelmingly favorable to them. People I know are cursing that they are in LaTourette's district and will never "have a choice" because the district is set up to protect him. The real "choice" issue isn't whether you are placed in an incumbent's district but whether the district so totally protects that incumbent that no one in any district will EVER "have a choice."

I"m not sure, given the situation in 2008 and surveying the field of candidates that stepped up, how things could have been much different. While I had issues with what some of the leaders of the past did, I don't blame Marcia Fudge, who has been a hardworking congresswoman and with whose voting record I can find little fault.

Richard said...

@ Anonymous. I agree totally with the analysis in your first paragraph about incumbent protection. All voters suffer in that scheme because an incumbent in a "safe" district has less incentive to be responsive to his/her constituency.

Regarding issues in the 11th District represented by Marcia Fudge, the important questions to consider have more to do with the process than the result. That's in the past, however. District residents in 2012 — including a large contingent of voters that have never had a chance to vote either for or against Marcia Fudge or Nina Turner — face a clearer choice than was available in 2008 after the sudden death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

How voters approach and assess the choice will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the primary. Expect us to weigh in regularly on this contest.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Richard for keeping us informed and for providing a platform to express ourselves about matters that impact all of us.

The strategic side of me would have to agree with Anonymous in that splitting the vote doesn't help the party and will risk once again, the ability for President Obama to carry out his agenda to advance America. Can we just work on that for the moment instead of being concerned about choice? Folks had a choice to vote in 2010, and as we know, many did not exercise that right, which is why we are fighting one referendum after another.

Time is of the essence and it is critical that we work together and show some unity in advancing Ohio as well!

Chris Sagers said...

Richard: I'm new to your blog, and have been told by a mutual friend that you are knowledgeable about this race and its dynamics. Let me stress two things first: (1) I definitely understand your desire to carry water for neither candidate just yet, and (2) I also want to avoid any appearance of a preference, mainly because I am just awfully naive about the whole thing.
With that in mind, I was hoping you might be willing to shed some neutral insight on the race and its likely future. I was wondering especially if you could comment on this: While I understand this comparison may be unfair, I believe some voters have a sense that Turner-Fudge has some of the David-vs.-Goliath appeal as did Brunner-Fisher. First, assuming that that was a fair characterization of Brunner-Fisher, do you think it is fair to compare the races that way? Second, whether that is fair or not, recall that while Brunner mustered a very devoted crew of supporters, she was severely beaten in the primary. Is that also the likely outcome here?

Richard said...

Thanks, Anonymous#2, for joining the conversation and also for your kind words.

The Fudge-Turner contest is not really vote-splitting in the manner of a third-party candidate. We are dealing here with a primary contest where the winner will 1) almost certainly be elected in November and 2) be a strong supporter of President Obama’s re-election bid.

I don’t worry about the “unnecessary” expenditure of valuable resources — meaning money, time, and manpower — in the primary. I don’t see either candidate as having a strong political district-wide organization. The winning candidate will have to create one and if properly done, that organization is likely to aid the Obama effort in the fall.

I’ll save my comments on financial contributions for a later post.

The one potential piece of unwelcome fallout from the primary campaign is the possibility that the candidates would savage one another in a way that creates bad blood in the community. That danger is more likely to come from the wings than from the candidates. Given my view that the black political community needs to be enlarged, reconstituted and reenergized, I think the primary is overall a healthy development, regardless of who wins.

Finally, it must be remembered that this is not merely a ”black thang” or a Cleveland thing. An important percentage of the new district is now neither African American nor Cuyahogan.

Finally, see my reply to the next comment.

Richard said...

Welcome to the community circle, Chris! Please thank our mutual friend for me, whoever he/she may be.

The 2010 Brunner-Fisher primary for the US Senate nomination did indeed have some David vs. Goliath aspects to it insofar as the state party establishment was overzealous in its unsuccessful attempt to discourage Brunner. That was a high-stakes battle that put at greater risk two races the Democrats wound up losing: US Senator and Secretary of State. It also had an impact on reapportionment; if Brunner chosen to run for re-election and been successful [as I think she would have been], the GOP Ohio Apportionment Board majority would have been only 3-2 instead of 4-1, with a potential impact on the redrawing of Ohio House districts. [Remember that reapportionment and redistricting are different though parallel processes; the former is a state function carried out by the aforementioned board; the latter is federally mandated but carried out by the General Assembly.]

The 11th District primary is an entirely different animal. While I think state Democratic leaders were tin-eared, tone-deaf, sexist, inbred, reactionary and ham-handed in their approach to Brunner’s decision, they nonetheless had some legitimate concerns from a party standpoint.

I submit there is no coherent black political establishment in Greater Cleveland. Instead there is disjointed assemblage of personal fiefdoms. I expect the primary battle to bring a new dynamic into local black politics, no matter who wins, and for that I say hip, hip, hurray.

Also, see my reply to Anonymous #2 above.