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Democrats Nominate Fudge to Succeed Jones

Cleveland-area Democrats have picked a protégé of the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) to follow in her footsteps.

The Cuyahoga County Executive Committee nominated Warrensville Heights Mayor Marcia Fudge today to take the late Congresswoman’s place on the Nov. 4 ballot in the heavily Democratic 11th district.

The committee overwhelmingly nominated Fudge with 175 votes, according to the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. Former state Sen. C.J. Prentiss received 64 votes, while the Rev. Marvin McMickle received 30 votes during the meeting of appointed and elected Democrats in the district.

Fudge will face little-known engineer Thomas Pekarek (R) on Election Day. The 11th district, which comprises east Cleveland and its suburbs, is a Democratic stronghold.

Fudge worked for Jones as staff director before becoming mayor of the suburban Cleveland town, which has a population of about 15,000.

Jones passed away on Aug. 20 after suffering a brain aneurysm while driving her car in the Cleveland area. Her sudden departure left a void in the Cleveland region less than 80 days before what would have likely been her fifth re-election to Congress.

Meanwhile, 11th district voters will vote in a special election to choose a lawmaker to finish Jones’ term. The primary for that race will be Oct. 14, and the special general election is Nov. 18. Fudge is also a candidate for that special election, along with 12 other Democrats including McMickle and Prentiss, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Dennis Eckart, a former Democratic Congressman from the Cleveland area, said he was happy about this opportunity for Fudge, whom he said he has known since she was staff director for Jones. Eckhart said the Fudge nomination shows a true consensus given her overwhelming support from the local black community, suburban mayors and other traditional political figures in the area.

“She has really conceived a consensus, which is a good indication of the skills she will bring as a Member of Congress,” Eckart said.

He noted that Fudge also always had Jones’ vote of confidence.

“She has large shoes to fill,” Eckart said. “And that’s what’s nice about it: I feel that Marcia appreciates the task ahead of her.”

A call to Fudge’s office was not returned.