The Sunrise Movement endorses top Sanders ally Nina Turner to fill US House seat in Ohio

The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist group, on Monday announced its endorsement of former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, further bolstering her campaign’s progressive support ahead of a special election for an open US House seat in Ohio.

Turner, a top ally of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is running to succeed former Rep. Marcia Fudge, whom the Senate confirmed in March as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, leaving an open congressional seat in Ohio’s 11th District. The heavily Democratic northeast Ohio district will hold a special election in November, with a Democratic primary in August.

Turner is running in a crowded Democratic field that includes Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shontel Brown, who is also a member of the county council, and former Cleveland City Councilor Jeff Johnson. Sunrise is the latest in a line of progressive groups, including Justice Democrats and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, to throw its support behind Turner. It’s Sunrise’s first congressional endorsement of 2021.

“Ohio’s 11th deserves a Congresswoman who will be a fierce advocate for the Green New Deal and progressive policies amidst the twin economic and climate crises we’re facing. Nina is that leader — she understands what our communities are going through and is not afraid to stand up and work against the tide when it comes to helping her people,” Shanté Wolfe, electoral politics director for the Sunrise Movement, said in a statement.

In response to the endorsement, Turner said, “I’m incredibly honored to have their endorsement. This is a group of young people and young adjacent people who have been on a mission to deal with climate chaos in this country and they have been bold about it.”

“The most important thing about the Sunrise Movement’s endorsement is their vision. They understand that we must stop climate chaos right now for them and for generations yet unborn,” she said.

Turner — a former Cleveland city councilor who was appointed to the state senate in 2008 and reelected in 2010 before losing a race for secretary of state four years later — told CNN last week that she is committed to fighting for environmental and racial justice and believes in the need for a Green New Deal, the sweeping progressive climate proposal first brought to Congress in 2019 and championed by Sunrise.

“The Green New Deal is multifaceted. Not only does it force us to answer the needs of mother Earth, it will also help to create jobs, and we need those jobs,” said Turner, who noted that as a state senator she helped protect Lake Erie and co-sponsored a bill that helped exempt renewable energy facilities throughout Ohio from property taxes.

“There is a racial justice component to the Green New Deal as well because we can really go into the communities that suffer the most and revitalize those communities in a way that will not only green those communities, but also get the jobs that we need,” Turner added.

Turner has also secured the backing of Sanders and a number of other progressive leaders including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Cori Bush of Missouri, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

“I’ve gotten to know Nina Turner over the last five years. She deeply cares for working families and she has the heart to be an effective, unwavering fighter for them in Congress,” Sanders said in December.

Turner led Our Revolution, the outside group that grew out of Sanders’ 2016 campaign, before taking a leave of absence to become a co-chair of his 2020 run. She also served as a delegate for former President Barack Obama at the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions.

Since its founding in 2017, Sunrise has backed a number of progressive primary challengers to Democratic incumbents, including Bush and Bowman. But the group also rallied behind Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, a co-author of the Green New Deal who emerged as the progressive favorite when former Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy tried to end his decades in office.

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