Shontel Brown Wins Democratic Primary in Ohio Special Election for Congress
Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In a closely watched race with more than a dozen candidates, Shontel Brown emerged on Tuesday as the Democratic primary winner in Ohio’s Special Election for Congress. 

The District 11 seat was vacated by former Rep. Marcia Fudge, now the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Biden-Harris Administration. 

“THANK YOU OHIO-11!,” Brown Tweeted on election night. “And to all of the amazing volunteers, supporters and donors! Let’s get to work!”

A native of Cleveland, Brown began her public service as a Warrensville Heights City Council member in 2012. She went on to be elected to Cuyahoga County Council where she currently serves. In 2017, Brown was elected Chairwoman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. She made history as the first woman and the first Black person to serve in the role. 

Brown is reportedly a protege of former Congresswoman Fudge, and was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, among others.  

CBCPAC Executive Director, Yolonda Addison said in an endorsement statement that Brown is “no stranger to adversity and has spent her career fighting for Ohioans.”

Brown, she added, “worked alongside community leaders to install public wifi hotspots in the Greater Cleveland area in order to improve access to broadband, helping to close the digital divide. We know that she will work tirelessly to also ensure that all Americans have quality affordable health care, living wage jobs and a justice system that works for everyone.” 

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The intensely watched race came down to two Black women: Brown (50 % of the vote) and Nina Turner (44 %).  

Turner is a former Cleveland City Councilmember and State Senator for Ohio’s 25th district. She’s nationally known for her work championing progressive values such as a $15 an hour living wage and Medicare for All. 

Turner was a key member of Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaigns of 2016 and 2020. Besides Sanders, her endorsements included those of Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Dr. Cornel West and Sean Diddy Combs. 

Following the August 3rd election results, Turner addressed her supporters in a concession speech that said in part: “Throughout this campaign we have been centered on the needs of  the poor, working poor and the barely middle class, people of color, all the people who are marginalized, left out and left behind.”

Turner also noted: “Tonight, my friends, we have looked across at the promised land.  But for this campaign, on this night, we will not cross the river.” She vowed her “justice journey” would continue.  

The Republican winner in the Ohio race is also a Black woman. Laverne Gore is a businesswoman with advanced degrees in education and public health. Part of her platform centers job creation. “My American Dream began on E. 92nd and Hough on Cleveland’s Eastside. I am one of 9 children, and a life-long resident of Cleveland, and of the 11th Congressional district,” her website states. “My father, Moses, who worked as a steel worker and lithographer, and my mother Josephine, who worked as a nurse, encouraged all 9 of us to dream BIG!”