Marcia Fudge selected to succeed Tubbs-Jones

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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.

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Stephanie Tubbs Jones stricken by aneurysm; Dies

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Hat Tip: Cleveland Plain Dealer

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African-American woman to represent Ohio in Congress, is in critical condition after suffering a burst aneurysm last night, officials said this afternoon.

Officials updated her condition this afternoon after conflicting reports that the congresswoman was dead. Numerous media outlets – including The Plain Dealer on its Web site cleveland.com, CNN and the Associated Press – reported that Tubbs Jones had died.

Tubbs Jones, 58, served as a Cuyahoga County judge and prosecutor before succeeding U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes. She has served five terms in Congress and is expected to easily win her sixth in November.

She was driving in Cleveland Heights Tuesday about 9 p.m. when a police officer pulled her over for driving erratically. The officer found Tubbs Jones unconscious but breathing. She was rushed to Huron Hospital.

The mood of supporters around noon was somber. Cleveland Councilman Roosevelt Coats was seen sobbing outside the hospital. He said Tubbs Jones was unconscious and her friends and relatives were preparing for the worst.

Tubbs Jones has long been one of the region’s most recognizable politicians. Often clad in red — the color of her sorority Delta Sigma Theta — she is a regular at parades, senior centers and schools. Her annual Labor Day picnic at Luke Easter Park is a must-stop for any serious Democratic candidate running in the city, county or state.

She has been outspoken in her support of black candidates. She backed Raymond Pierce in his unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2001. Four years later, Tubbs Jones played a key role in helping Frank Jackson defeat Jane Campbell. She also stumped for countless black judicial candidates.

Tubbs Jones drew attention this year for her staunch support of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination for president. Tubbs Jones drew some criticism for her support of Clinton and not U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Her husband, Mervyn Sr., died unexpectedly in 2003.

UPDATE:  Stephanie Tubbs Jones has passed. 

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones’ family and officials at Huron Hospital have announced that the five-term congresswoman has died.

She was 58.

This is the statement:

Tubbs Jones Family, Huron Hospital and Cleveland ClinicAugust 20, 2008 – 6:40 p.m.

“Throughout the course of the day and into this evening, Congresswoman Tubbs Jones’ medical condition declined. Medical doctors and neurosurgeons from Huron Hospital and Cleveland Clinic sadly report that at 6:12 p.m. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones died.

She dedicated her life in public service to helping others and will continue to do so through organ donations.

Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.”