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Nina Turner

Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner speaks on July 25, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

Robert Reich Backs Nina Turner, 'Who Will Fight for Working People' in Ohio's 11th District

President Joe Biden endorsed her opponent, Shontel Brown—which one critic called a "very clear signal from the White House" that "if you think Biden needs to fight harder and do more, vote Nina Turner."

Jessica Corbett

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Friday urged voters in Ohio's 11th Congressional District to cast their ballots for progressive firebrand Nina Turner, who is challenging Rep. Shontel Brown in the Democratic primary.

Reich—now a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley—said that "we have to elect" Turner "because we need people in Congress who will fight for working people instead of allowing corporations and billionaires to loot the economy."

He also shared a recorded conversation he had with the candidate about how "poverty is a policy choice." In the video, published earlier this week, Reich introduces Turner as "one of my favorite people in America."

Reich's remarks came as early in-person voting is already underway for the May 3 election.

The professor's tweet also came as U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed Brown, describing her as "a true partner in Congress." Brown—who beat Turner in a special election for the seat last year—said she was "thankful" for Biden's support and pledged that she would "continue to be a unifying leader in Congress" while working with the president to deliver for her district.

Journalist Walker Bragman tweeted that the president's move was a "very clear signal from the White House: If you like what Biden is doing and how he's approaching negotiations, vote Shontel Brown. If you think Biden needs to fight harder and do more, vote Nina Turner."

Earlier this month, as the Congressional Progressive Caucus controversially backed Brown, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) formally endorsed Turner—who supported his 2016 presidential run and served as a national co-chair for his 2020 campaign.

In response to Biden's decision Friday, Andrew Perez, a senior editor and reporter at The Lever, said that "for the Democratic Party establishment, there's nothing more unforgivable than supporting Bernie Sanders."

Others noted Friday that in July 2020—a few months after Sanders suspended his campaign—Turner made clear that she was not enthusiastic about voting for Biden, telling The Atlantic: "It's like saying to somebody, 'You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you've got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.' It's still shit."

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)—who has endorsed Brown and is expected to stump for her in Ohio this weekend—referenced Turner's 2020 position on Friday.

"Shontel made it very clear that she was a Joe Biden supporter," Clyburn told The Hill. "And her opponent made it very clear that she was a Joe Biden opponent."

Biden's endorsement of Brown is notably only the second of this cycle.

David Dayen wrote Wednesday for The American Prospect that "Biden raised eyebrows over the weekend with his first endorsement of the 2022 election cycle, backing Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a corporate-friendly moderate who has opposed much of the White House's agenda, and who is facing a primary challenger running on the very administration priorities he has shunned."

Dayen noted that "Democrats in the district argue that Biden's endorsement of Schrader over his opponent, attorney and 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner, fits a pattern of the incumbent's support coming largely from the corporate and political establishment outside the state, rather than from voters and officials on the ground."

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