The race to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge in Ohio (who left to become Joe Biden’s HUD Secretary) became a proxy war between the party’s establishment wing and its noisy socialist left. National Journal called it a “battle for the soul of the Democratic Party” and that may not be overstating things very much as the big guns from both wings of the party came to Ohio to rally voters.
Nina Turner, who has worked for Bernie Sanders, started the race with a huge lead in the polls (30 points back in April) and a 3:1 money advantage thanks to donations that poured in from progressives in California. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez came out to support her, begging voters to “Send me Nina.” Keith Ellison, Danny Glover and Cornel West all came to Ohio to support her. Last week Bernie Sanders himself came out for a rally of nearly 1,000 people.
But the establishment fought back. Hillary Clinton endorsed Shontel Brown as did the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the 3rd highest ranking House Democrat, came to Ohio for a rally. Last week I wrote about why Clyburn came off the sidelines and traveled to support Shontel Brown. A few weeks earlier, Nina Turner had been part of a discussion with a rapper called Killer Mike who suggested Clyburn was “incredibly stupid” for not demanding more concessions in exchange for endorsing Biden. Nina Turner seemed to agree with him and that did not go over well with Clyburn who endorsed Shontel Brown the next day.
That wasn’t the only time that Nina Turner’s outspokenness got her in trouble. She also famously compared voting for Biden to eating a bowl of dog s**t. It’s the kind of statement that makes you a star on the far left but obviously there can be consequences to flipping your own party the bird at every opportunity.
Over time the polls tightened and the establishment money and effort behind Shontel Brown put her within striking distance. Yesterday all of that effort paid off. Brown won the primary by nearly 6 points, which in this heavily Democratic district means she is likely to win the seat. Just savor this description of the outcome from Politico:
The Democratic establishment dealt a crushing blow to the progressive movement Tuesday, when Shontel Brown, the preferred candidate of party stalwarts, triumphed over Nina Turner, a face of the insurgent left, in a special congressional primary election.
Turner conceded shortly after 10 p.m. with a biblical reference: “On this night, we will not cross the river.” She trailed Brown 51 percent to 44 percent when The Associated Press called the race…
The establishment forces leave the race with a blueprint for how to blunt progressive enthusiasm this cycle. But for the liberal wing, it’s another setback after a series of losses in off-year races.
As you might imagine, Nina Turner wasn’t exactly magnanimous in defeat. “Those of us fighting for that America here in Ohio and in every state in this country have been on a long justice journey through a desert of despair, indifference, inequality and racism,” she said. She continued, “Tonight my friends we have looked across the promised land but on this campaign on this night we will not cross the river.”
Okay, Moses. Take a breath.
This is another awkward moment for the far left because Jewish voters came out strongly for Shontel Brown after she supported Israel’s right to defend itself earlier this year. By contrast, Nina Turner was RTing this tweet calling Israel an Apartheid state:
Solidarity is a verb ✊🏾 https://t.co/Kupgdtuqey
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) May 12, 2021
That had an impact on the race as Jewish groups got involved to bring out their voters for Brown. And it seems that effort made a difference. Jewish Democratic Council of America CEO Halie Soifer told the Jerusalem Post, “Voter turnout in areas with large Jewish populations was – on average – double the overall turnout in the district. Specifically, OH-11 turnout was 16.8%, and turnout in heavily Jewish areas of the district was 25-31%. The results speak for themselves and it’s clear the Jewish vote made a critical difference for Shontel Brown in this close race.”
So keep that in mind when you hear Turner claim last night that she didn’t lose the race so much as “evil money” had manipulated the election.
Nina Turner (D-OH) after losing: “We didn't lose this race. Evil money manipulated and maligned this election.” pic.twitter.com/QJlujpdE5n
— Jewish Deplorable (@TrumpJew2) August 4, 2021
Turner also RT’d this statement by Cenk Uygur last night blaming the loss on her unwillingness to serve “white leadership,” meaning Joe Biden.
Look at establishment logic – @ninaturner should have kissed Joe Biden's ass more. She was too independent. How dare that Black woman have independent thought, they say. She did not serve white leadership enough. Yes, this kind of disgusting thinking is considered normal in DC.
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) August 4, 2021
Sorry, is the Congressional Black Caucus white leadership because they endorsed Shontel Brown? It always seems to amaze people on the far left that many Black voters aren’t socialists and won’t automatically pull the lever for the far left candidate. Anyway, I think this tweet sort of sums up where the Turner campaign went wrong.
Nina Turner attacked Israel, mobilizing Jewish voters
She insulted Jim Clyburn, mobilizing the entire CBC
She insulted Biden, mobilizing mainstream Dems
— Brent Peabody (@brent_peabody) August 4, 2021
Turner has a catch phrase she uses on the trail, “Hello, somebody.” But for not it looks like she’ll be saying goodbye to everybody. That doesn’t mean the left is going to learn anything from this. Team extreme, led by Sanders, AOC and Justice Democrats, will keep fighting the same battle without acknowledging that it mostly hasn’t gone well for them or their party. So far this morning, AOC hasn’t tweeted anything about the loss.
Update: I’m just going to leave this here.
— ADL (@ADL) August 4, 2021