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Rep. Shontel Brown of Ohio beats Nina Turner in Democratic primary rematch

Turner, a former state senator close to Sen. Bernie Sanders, hoped redrawn boundaries would favor her in round two of this establishment-vs.-progressive rivalry.
Image: Rep. Shontel Brown
Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, at the U.S. Capitol's Rayburn Room after a group photo with the Congressional Black Caucus on April 6.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

CLEVELAND — Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, won a rematch Tuesday against Nina Turner, a progressive activist and former state senator who is known nationally for her work on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaigns, NBC News projects.

Brown was leading 65.3 percent to 34.7 percent, with 62 percent of precincts reporting, at 11:01 p.m. ET.

Brown beat Turner by 5.5 percentage points in a crowded special primary last summer and then easily won the vacant seat in Ohio’s overwhelmingly Democratic 11th Congressional District in the general election.

“This is another hard-fought victory,” Brown said in remarks celebrating her victory Tuesday night. “I’m going to continue to show up for you.”

Turner had hoped that new district boundaries, which now include more of Cleveland and the liberal bordering suburb of Lakewood, would be friendlier turf for her.

This year’s battle was quieter, lacking the national establishment-vs.-progressive intrigue that Brown and Turner played into the first time.

Brown, who chairs the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, aligned herself closely with President Joe Biden and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, the district’s former representative, whose appointment to the Cabinet opened the seat. Turner co-chaired Sanders’ 2020 campaign against Biden, and she was on record making an obscene comment about the future president.

After she lost last year, Turner decried the influx of what she called “evil money” into the race — a reference to spending by outside organizations and pro-Israel groups that saw Brown as a more reliable ally. Some Jewish leaders found the remark to play into antisemitic stereotypes.

In the rematch, Turner again had support from Sanders, I-Vt., and other allies of his movement. But the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which endorsed Turner last year, switched its allegiance to Brown for this year’s primary. And whereas Turner tapped her robust national fundraising network in the first race, Brown had the fundraising edge this time.

“She possesses a demeanor that is magnetic,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said of Brown last week before he headed to Cleveland to campaign for her. “She draws people to her, and she’s been doing that since she’s been in Congress.”