The Working Families Party, a progressive group, plans to spend at least $150,000 in support of Democrat Nina Turner’s congressional bid, escalating national investment in an Ohio special election that has become an ideological proxy battle.
The super PAC’s spending could reach as much as $200,000, according to Joe Dinkin, the WFP’s campaigns director.
“In this moment, Democrats need to go big to deal with the scale of crises that people are facing from the pandemic that we’ve lived through to the coming climate disaster that we’re seeing on the news,” Dinkin said. “We need people who are ready to make the case for bold leadership and bold action that meets the scale of those problems. Nina is someone who has never shied away from that.”
The independent show of support, which is not coordinated with the Turner campaign, is the second super PAC to arise on Turner’s behalf in a bid to counter the influence of outside groups backing Shontel Brown, Turner’s more moderate Democratic opponent.
The first group, Democratic Action PAC, founded by left-wing consultant Connor Farrell, is focusing its resources on TV, digital advertising and radio spots.
The WFP, by contrast, is funding phone calls and door knocking on Turner’s behalf.
Campaign veterans sometimes advise against super PACs investing in field campaigns because they are legally prohibited from coordinating with campaigns and thus lack access to up-to-date information about voters that the campaigns have collected.
Dinkin nonetheless believes that it is the most effective way for the WFP to supplement Turner’s efforts.
“There’s a lot of money that’s going to get spent on negative ads against Nina, and there’s no substitute for direct conversation one-on-one with a person to talk about what’s real and what we can do together,” Dinkin said. “I’d take in-person organizing and one-on-one conversations to beat attack ads on TV any time.”
Turner, a former Ohio state senator and top ally to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has attracted national progressive support in her bid to succeed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.
Turner, a former Cleveland city councilwoman, initially used her TV ads to remind the largely mainstream Democratic voters in the Cleveland and Akron areas of her long history as a pragmatic public servant. She has since gone on the attack against Brown on the airwaves.
Earlier this month, Brown released an internal polling memo showing that she gained 26 percentage points in a month’s time on television, significantly narrowing Turner’s lead.
“Nina Turner sees this race slipping away from her, so it’s no surprise she’s trying to dredge up attacks that have already been litigated and resolved,” Brown campaign manager Brian Peters said in a statement.
Turner squares off against Brown, a county councilwoman and local Democratic Party chair, on Aug. 3. Given the district’s heavy Democratic tilt, the winner of the special primary election is expected to triumph easily in the special general election in November.
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