No matter who wins the Democratic nomination in Ohio’s 11th District Tuesday night, there’s an almost 0% chance of the seat being in any danger to a Republican takeover next fall.
But that doesn’t make the result unimportant.
In fact, the race to replace Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge is actually an early test to see which part of the Democratic Party is in charge: younger, more liberal activists or older, more establishment types.
Representing the former group is Nina Turner, a former state senator and one of the most prominent surrogates for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns.
Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have campaigned for Turner. “We need Nina. I need Nina. Please send me Nina,” Ocasio-Cortez told voters during a campaign stop in the Cleveland-area district.
The latter group is represented by Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, who has been endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus, among others.
The choice bears clear echoes of the 2020 presidential race between Sanders and Joe Biden. And the current President is being invoked by Brown allies to question whether Turner’s vision for the Democratic Party is the right one.
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, told CNN recently that Biden needed all the allies he could get in the House, a clear shot at Turner’s past negative comments about the 46th President.
Third Way, a centrist Democratic group, is spending $500,000 on a series of ads driving that same message.
One ad features Turner saying of the choice between Biden and Donald Trump: “You got two bowls of [expletive] in front of you.” Later in the same ad the words “Nina Turner Wants to Undo the Democratic Party” appear on screen.
“In 2020, Democrats lost 12 House freshmen, in large part because Republicans were able to tie them to the radical ideas and rhetoric of the far left,” said Third Way’s Matt Bennett. “Nina Turner is as radical as they come, and she would imperil the Democrats’ tiny House majority.”
The Point: The Biden-Sanders primary didn’t end the divisions within the Democratic Party. It may have, at least in some quarters, exacerbated them.