Last Tuesday, centrist corporate Democrat Shontel Brown beat progressive Nina Turner 37,666 (50.2%) to 33,420 (44.5%). As Matt Karp explained for Jacobin readers, "Turner won five of Cleveland’s nine black-majority wards and lost four (all of them narrowly, by less than two points). She won the city of Cleveland overall, as well as the black-majority city of Akron."
And that leads to the question everyone is wondering: "If Turner outperformed [Cori] Bush among black working-class voters, why did she lose while Bush won? In Ohio-11, the key difference came in the more affluent suburbs.
In wealthy communities like Pepper Pike-- 84 percent white, with a median income of $190,000 a year-- Brown beat Turner by over fifty points. There are simply far fewer of these kinds of communities in Cori Bush’s Missouri district.
Yes, Brown also did well in black working-class suburbs near her home base of Warrensville Heights, which she has represented as a city and county council member for over a decade. But by far the heaviest blow against Turner came in the richer burbs. In just six suburban towns-- Pepper Pike, Beachwood, Orange, Broadview Heights, University Heights, and Shaker Heights-- Brown netted 4,390 votes over Turner, more than her total margin of victory.
This is just one special election. The progressive left as a whole still has work to do to win over working-class black voters.
But for pessimistic observers tempted to over-read the results-- either as an ideological defeat for the Left, or a repudiation of Turner’s confrontational style-- the actual results in Northeastern Ohio offer a measure of hope.
Nina Turner, after all, referred to the sitting Democratic president as “half a bowl of shit,” and the establishment spent millions making sure every Democratic primary voter in her district knew about it. She still won Cleveland, Akron, and-- probably-- a larger share of black working-class voters than most victorious progressives. Her defeat is a setback for the Left, but it was nothing like a defeat for class politics.
And then there's this:
DMFI-- Democratic Majority For Israel PAC-- is a racist organization funded by conservatives-- both Democrats and Republicans-- and headed by racist swine Mark Mellman. It sure looks like they spent more money smearing Nina than all the other groups spent in the race combined. Shontel Brown won in the Jewish neighborhoods, where Nina was painted as an anti-Semite, a lie. Greater Cleveland is home to nearly 100,000 Jews, many of the more recent ones, extremely right-wing Orthodox Jews, in Lakewood and Tremont, where Brown (the not-Nina-Turner-candidate) won overwhelmingly. Conservative Jews from Cleveland include Geraldo Rivera, Josh Mandel (a Nazi in every way but his Jewishness), Florida conservative Democratic congressmen Ron Klein and Ted Deutch and former Oklahoma Republican congressman Mickey Edwards. Nearly a third of Cleveland's Jews are Orthodox, including Trump supporting Hasidics. The not-Nina-Turner candidate did very well in the eastern Jewish suburbs (Orange, Pepper Pike) and well as Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, University Heights, South Euclid, Solon and Beachwood.