Both Republicans and Democrats are set to win a previously-vacant seat in the House of Representatives after a candidate from each party triumphed in two Ohio special elections Tuesday.
Cuyahoga County Councilmember Shontel Brown beat her Republican opponent overwhelmingly in Ohio’s Cleveland-area 11th District. In the state’s 15th District, which extends southeast from the Columbus suburbs, Trump-endorsed coal lobbyist Mike Carey cruised to victory, defeating Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo.
Brown led with over 80% of the vote and Carey was ahead with about 58% when the New York Times called each race.
The special election in Ohio’s 15th district was to succeed Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, who resigned in May to lead the state’s Chamber of Commerce. Though Carey was favored to win, high-profile Republicans including former Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in-person with Carey in the days ahead of the election, while President Joe Biden endorsed Russo Monday.
Brown’s victory in the 11th District means that she will succeed former Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, who resigned in March to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Though Brown was all but guaranteed to win in a seat that voted for Biden by over 60 points in 2020, her general election could not have been more different than her primary, where she overcame a double-digit deficit to beat former state Rep. Nina Turner.
The primary put divisions within the Democratic Party on full display. While Turner, who supported the “defund the police” movement and called for universal healthcare continuously, earned endorsements from many in the party’s left wing, many moderates — who already held Turner in low esteem — raced to endorse Brown.
“What I try to do is demonstrate by precept and example how we are to proceed as a party,” said South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the number three Democrat in the House, when explaining his decision to endorse Brown. “When I spoke out against sloganeering, like ‘Burn, baby, burn’ in the 1960s and ‘defund the police,’ which I think is cutting the throats of the party, I know exactly where my constituents are. They are against that, and I’m against that.”
Once Brown and Carey are sworn in, the House makeup will be 221-213, maintaining Democrats’ three vote margin.
The one remaining House vacancy lies in Florida’s 20th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings until his death in April. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Dale Holness were running neck-and-neck in the district’s Democratic primary Tuesday, and whoever wins will be all but certain to be elected in the January general election given Biden’s 55-point win in the district last November.
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