EUCLID, Ohio (AP) — Democratic leaders on Thursday selected the mayor of a suburban Cleveland town to replace the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Warrensville Heights Mayor Marcia Fudge, 55, parlayed key endorsements to become the party’s nominee in the heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District, which includes part of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs. She’ll run against Republican Thomas Pekarek, 59, who has run unsuccessfully for public office numerous times.
Fudge, a former chief of staff to Tubbs Jones, was backed by Tubbs Jones’ Democratic predecessor, Louis Stokes, and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. The two organized a panel to hear from candidates at a closed-door meeting earlier in the week, a move criticized as boss-style politics.
Before the vote at a suburban Cleveland high school Thursday night, Fudge told members of the Cuyahoga County executive committee that her experience as a congressional aide made her well-qualified.
“I know what it takes because I’ve been there,” she said.
Fudge won 175 of 281 votes cast in the five-way race. Her rivals included former state Sens. C.J. Prentiss and Jeffrey Johnson, former Cleveland Councilman Bill Patmon and the Rev. Marvin McMickle, a minister who lost to Tubbs Jones in the primary 10 years ago.
The same group of contenders filed to run in the Oct. 14 Democratic primary for the right to advance to a Nov. 18 special election. No Republican filed to run in the special election. The winner will serve out the last few months of Tubbs Jones’ term.
If Fudge wins both the Nov. 4 election and the special election, she’ll be sworn in before other first-term House members elected in November, giving her an important edge in seniority.
Tubbs Jones was first elected to the House in 1998, becoming the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress. Against token Republican opposition in 2006, she won 83 percent of the vote.
She died unexpectedly on Aug. 20 after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.