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Big votes, big primary await winner in OH-11

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 12:14 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Voters in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District are inching closer to choosing who will fill their open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The winner, expected to be Democrat Shontel Brown in a district that is prohibitively Democratic, is going to face an immediate barrage of work in Congress, while keeping an eye on the near future.

Brown will have to get up to speed quickly on Capitol Hill with consequential votes on the horizon. She will be joining her colleagues 11 months after the new Congress began.

“Picking and choosing those spots will be an important part to wielding her influence early on,” said Colin Swearingen, a political expert from John Carroll University in Cleveland.

Swearingen says Brown may have the opportunity to deliver real change for her district in the first few weeks on the job. The district has been without representation since March when Marcia Fudge joined the Biden Administration to serve as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

But with members of Congress considering historic social spending packages, infrastructure overhauls, and voting rights legislation, Swearingen believes Brown could make her mark right away.

“She’ll have the ability I think to use her experience in Cleveland and locally to fight for issues that will benefit cities similar to Cleveland,” said Swearingen.

Election battles will remain in Brown’s rearview for just a short few months. Most of her new colleagues enjoy at least a year hiatus from the throes of everyday campaigning, but Brown will be facing yet another primary in May, meaning her campaign will have to continue.

Swearingen believes Nina Turner, the former state senator who gave Brown a close race in the August primary may come back and try to unseat Brown. But Brown will have the added benefit of being an incumbent with the full establishment apparatus behind her.

“One of the biggest challenges that will face Shontel Brown is that of course once she’s in Congress, she has to take votes. So anytime she votes against amendments, or in committee, or even on the floor for legislation, that’s something that an opponent in the primary can use against her,” said Swearingen.

The exact timing of the swearing in for Ohio’s newest representative is still unknown. Next year’s primary in Ohio is slated for May 3.

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