Nina Turner

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Nina Turner
Nina Turner crop light and color corrected.jpg
Turner in 2020
Member of the Ohio Senate
from the 25th district
In office
September 15, 2008 – December 31, 2014
Preceded byLance Mason
Succeeded byKenny Yuko
Member of the Cleveland City Council
from Ward 1
In office
January 1, 2006 – September 16, 2008
Preceded byJoe Jones[1]
Succeeded byTerrell Pruitt
Personal details
Nina Hudson

(1967-12-07) December 7, 1967 (age 53)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jeffery Turner
EducationCuyahoga Community College (AA)
Cleveland State University (BA, MA) Edit this at Wikidata

Nina Hudson Turner (born December 7, 1967) is an American politician from Ohio. A member of the Democratic Party, she was a Cleveland City Councillor from 2006 to 2008 and an Ohio State Senator from 2008 until 2014.

Turner was the Democratic nominee for Ohio Secretary of State in 2014, but lost in the general election against incumbent Jon A. Husted, receiving 35.5 percent of the vote. She supported Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential campaign, and became president of the Sanders-affiliated group Our Revolution in 2017. She served as a national co-chair of Sanders' 2020 campaign.

Turner is a candidate in the 2021 Ohio's 11th congressional district special election, as incumbent Representative Marcia Fudge was selected to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Biden administration.

Early life and education[edit]

Turner is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She was born Nina Hudson to teen parents, the first of seven children.[2] Her father and mother had split up by the time she was five. At 14, she began working part-time jobs, giving "every dime" she earned to her mother. She graduated from Cleveland's John F. Kennedy High School in 1986.

She did not continue her education immediately, instead taking a variety of jobs, including working at a fast food outlet and a Payless shoe store. While at Payless, she met Jeffery Turner, whom she later married. Subsequently, she returned to school to earn an Associate in Arts degree from Cuyahoga Community College, where she is now a tenured assistant professor of history.[3] Her mother, who had been struggling with high blood pressure all her life, died in 1992 at the age of 42.[2] Turner completed her degree, followed by a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and then a Master of Arts degree in 1997 from Cleveland State University.[4]

Ohio career[edit]

Legislative aide[edit]

She began her professional career as a legislative aide in 2001 to then-state Senator Rhine McLin.[5] Turner returned to her hometown to serve in the administration of Cleveland Mayor Michael White where she was quickly promoted to Executive Assistant of Legislative Affairs. She later lobbied on behalf of Cleveland's schoolchildren at the state and federal levels as the Director of Government Affairs for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.[6]

Cleveland City Council (2006–2008)[edit]

Turner made a run for Cleveland City Council in 2001, but was defeated by the incumbent, Joe Jones. In November 2004, Jones resigned his City Council seat. His wife, Tonya Jones, was the top vote-getter in a September nine-way, non-partisan primary race to select a candidate to fill Jones' seat. In the November 2005 election, Turner defeated Tonya Jones to become the Council Member for Ward One, the first African American woman in the seat.[5]

Turner served on Cleveland City Council from 2006 to 2008.[7] In March 2006, she traveled to Oxford, England to participate in the invitation-only Oxford Round Table (not affiliated with the University of Oxford), where scholars from around the world gathered to discuss issues of diversity.[6]

Ohio State Senate (2008–2014)[edit]

In September 2008, Senator Lance Mason resigned his 25th District seat in the Ohio Senate to accept an appointment to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Turner was unanimously selected by the Ohio Senate Democratic caucus to serve the remainder of Mason's four-year Senate term. She resigned her City Council seat to accept the appointment on September 15, 2008. In the 128th General Assembly, Turner served as the Ranking Minority member on the Senate Highways & Transportation and Judiciary Criminal Justice Committees.

Turner won a full term in 2010, running unopposed in the general election. She was elected as Minority Whip halfway through the 129th General Assembly. She served as Minority Whip in the following General Assembly. By then her district consisted of the eastern side of Cuyahoga County as well as half of Lake County (including the Village of Fairport Harbor, the Village of Grand River, the City of Painesville and parts of Painesville Township; but excluding the City of Kirtland, the Village of Kirtland Hills, the Village of Waite Hill, the City of Willoughby Hills and most of the City of Mentor).

In 2019, she said of the time:

"I remember very clearly that my colleagues were always referred to as Senator. Senator this, and Senator that. We could be in the same room ... and I would be Nina. And for me, it is important that my first name is Senator, my last name is Turner, because you earned that title. Sometimes women are not given the kind of respect that they have earned, and that they deserve."[8]

Men's health bill[edit]

As a political statement against legislation attempting to restrict women's access to contraception and abortion,[9] in March 2012, Turner introduced a bill to regulate men's reproductive health. Under her proposed S.B. 307, before getting a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs, a man would have to get a notarized affidavit signed by a recent sexual partner affirming his impotency, consult with a sex therapist and receive a cardiac stress test. She said the proposed statute would be parallel to recent legislation written by male legislators restricting women's reproductive health and that she was equally concerned about men's reproductive health.

"Even the FDA recommends that doctors make sure that assessments are taken that target the nature of the symptoms, whether it's physical or psychological," Turner said. "I certainly want to stand up for men's health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman's womb."[10] The proposed legislation was not meant to be passed, but as a way of bringing attention to similar bills targeted towards women.[9]

Rape custody law[edit]

In January 2014, Turner led unsuccessful efforts to change Ohio's rape custody law. It permits visitation and custody by men who father children via rape or sexual assault against a woman or girl. Turner wanted to protect rape victims/survivors and children conceived as a result of rape by preventing parental custody rights from being provided to rapists who fathered their children. She said it may be difficult for people to contemplate that a person would desire parental rights for a child conceived due to rape, though it occurs.[11] She and fellow Democrat Charleta Tavares introduced SB-171. It would allow rape victims to file court claims terminating their attacker's parental rights and permit a mother to place her child up for adoption without being required to seek her attacker's approval. The bill was stalled in the senate.[12]

2014 Secretary of State election[edit]

On July 1, 2013, Turner declared her candidacy for Ohio Secretary of State, challenging Republican Jon Husted.[13] On September 18, 2014, Bill Clinton officially supported Turner's candidacy.[14] Turner was defeated 60%–35% by Husted.[15]

Professor of history[edit]

Since 1998, Nina Turner has been a member of the faculty at her alma mater Cuyahoga Community College.[16] She is currently a tenured assistant professor of history there, where she teaches African-American history, African-American women's history, American history, and women's studies.[3]

Career on the national stage[edit]

2016 presidential election[edit]

Turner speaking at a rally in 2016

In the 2016 presidential election, Turner initially supported Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination but switched her support to Bernie Sanders.[17][18] After Clinton won the nomination, Turner was invited by Jill Stein to become the Green Party's nominee for Vice President, but she declined saying, "I believe that the Democratic Party is worth fighting for."[19]

Our Revolution[edit]

In 2016, Turner became the president and public face of Our Revolution, a progressive political action organization spun out of Senator Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign. In December of that year, she served as a member of the DNC Unity Reform Commission in Washington D.C. to examine whether the caucus process needed to be reformed in the wake of the 2016 election.[20]

According to a May 2018 review by Politico Our Revolution had become "flailing" and "in disarray" a year into her leadership.[21] By May 2018, the organization's monthly fundraising totals were one-third of what they had been May 2017. Again, according to Politico, the group operated primarily as a vehicle for Sanders and had "shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor—despite possessing Sanders' email list, the envy of the Democratic Party—and can claim no major wins in 2018 as its own." There was infighting in the group, as board members and Sanders' 2016 presidential delegates questioned Turner's actions and motives. Figures in the organization queried whether Turner was using the organization for a presidential run of her own. They questioned whether she was settling scores with the Democratic National Committee from 2016 and criticized her hiring associates to senior positions within the organization. One of Turner's hires to a senior position was Tezlyn Figaro, who frequently appeared on Fox News to praise Trump and has made anti-immigration comments. Our Revolution also endorsed Dennis Kucinich in the race for the Democratic nomination for the 2018 Ohio governorship; questions were raised about Turner's close relation to Kucinich's running mate.[21]

Turner with Jane Kim and Adriel Hampton in 2018.

Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign[edit]

Turner campaigning for Sanders in March 2019

On February 21, 2019, Turner was named a national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign.[22] She told Cleveland's Plain Dealer in July 2019:

"In many ways I see this as a ministry. I am on a mission to help make this world a better place. I couldn’t think of anything better to be doing right now than to help the man who has the heart soul agreement to bring about a revolution in this country. The type of revolution that will not leave working class blacks, whites, Latinx, Asian and indigenous people behind. There are many things I could be doing right now, but I’m on a mission. This is personal."[23]

She has appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews,[24] Meet the Press,[25] Politics Nation and other programs in support of the candidate.[26] She also appeared to back Sanders on CNN's State of the Union.[27]

In October 2019, she appeared with other female campaign managers at the Citizen by CNN event in New York City.[8]

Post-Sanders campaign[edit]

In September 2020, Turner launched the public affairs firm Amare Public Affairs in partnership with Mercury Public Affairs.[28] That December, it was reported that she was considering entering the race for Ohio's 11th congressional district to succeed Marcia Fudge, who was considered likely to gain a place in Biden's cabinet.[29][30]

2021 Ohio's 11th congressional district special election[edit]

On December 9, 2020, the media began to report that President-elect Joe Biden planned to tap Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as his nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development,[31] The same day, Turner filed paperwork to register a committee by the name of "Nina for Us" with the Federal Election Commission.[32] On December 10, Fudge's nomination was made official, and five days later on December 15, Nina Turner officially announced her candidacy in the special election for Ohio's 11th congressional district.[33]

Television appearances[edit]

Turner has worked for CNN as a contributor. In June 2017, she began a regular segment on The Real News Network called The Nina Turner Show.[34]

Turner has made multiple appearances on C-SPAN, the first being a 2012 meeting as a State Senator.

In 2018, Turner portrayed a fictitious version of herself in the pilot episode of the television series Black Lightning, praising actor Cress Williams' character Jefferson Pierce.[35]

Electoral history[edit]

Ohio Senate 25th district 2010 election
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2010 Nina Turner 73,694 100.00% Unopposed
Ohio Secretary of State 2014 election
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Libertarian Votes Pct
2014 Nina Turner 1,074,475 35.5% Jon Husted 1,811,020 59.8% Kevin Knedler 141,292 4.7%

Personal life[edit]

Turner is married to Jeffery Turner, Sr., a lieutenant in the Ohio National Guard.[5] They have a son, Jeffery Turner, Jr, and they reside in Cleveland while Turner works out of Washington, D.C.[23] Turner is a Christian and has publicly stated how her faith forms a basis for her political convictions.[36]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Gomez, Henry J. (November 22, 2009). "Nina Turner's future bright due to gutsy stand on Issue 6". The Plain Dealer. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2011 – via
  3. ^ a b "Former state senator Nina Turner reflects on her education journey". Cuyahoga Community College. March 30, 2017. Archived from the original on August 5, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  4. ^ "Nina Turner." Who's Who Among African Americans. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2017. Retrieved via Biography in Context database, June 30, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Troy, Tom (July 1, 2013). "Politics: State Sen. Nina Turner from Cleveland to run for Ohio secretary of state Archived November 10, 2017, at the Wayback Machine". The Blade (Toledo). Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  6. ^ a b Senate, Ohio (2009). "Ladies Gallery: Nina Turner". Ohio Statehouse.
  7. ^ "Voting rights at center of hot race". mydaytondailynews. Archived from the original on September 18, 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Bridget Nolan; Dana Bash. "Meet 5 badass women of the leading Democratic presidential campaigns". CNN.
  9. ^ a b Tomassoni, Teresa (March 15, 2012). "In Protest, Democrats Zero In On Men's Reproductive Health". NPR. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  10. ^ Borchardt, Jackie (March 12, 2012). "Bill introduced to regulate men's reproductive health; Part of a trend, she likens the bill to men legislating 'a woman's womb.'". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  11. ^ Bourgeois, Caleigh (January 15, 2014). "Ohio senator trying to change rape custody law". Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  12. ^ "Do rapists have parental rights?". Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Gomez, Henry J. (July 1, 2013). "Nina Turner announces bid for Ohio secretary of state; Democrat hopes to unseat Jon Husted". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Archived from the original on December 5, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  14. ^ Sanner, Ann. "Bill Clinton backs Nina Turner for Secretary of State". Associated Press. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  15. ^ Jeremy, Pelzer (November 5, 2014). "Jon Husted wins Ohio Secretary of State race". Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  16. ^ "Nina Turner Resume" (PDF). Sanders Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 7, 2020. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  17. ^ Kosich, John (February 1, 2016). "Former State Senator Nina Turner's growing role as campaign surrogate for Bernie Sanders". WEWS-TV. Archived from the original on February 22, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  18. ^ "Ohio's Nina Turner jumps from Clinton to Sanders". Politico. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  19. ^ Denvir, Daniel (September 8, 2016). "Nina Turner: Reflections on the political revolution's past and future". Salon. Archived from the original on March 27, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  20. ^ "DNC Unity Reform Commission, Day 2, Part 1". December 9, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Bernie's army in disarray". Politico. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Perticone, Joe (February 21, 2019). "Bernie Sanders announces new national co-chairs: Our Revolution President and former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner, Rep. Ro Khanna, San Juan Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen". @JoePerticone. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Eaton, Sabrina (July 5, 2019). "Cleveland's Nina Turner 'people raises' for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders". The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  24. ^ "Nina Turner: Bernie Sanders 'running for the people'".
  25. ^ "Full Turner: Voters should pick Senator Sanders because he is 'consistent'".
  26. ^ "Nina Turner on Bernie Sanders' support among African Americans".
  27. ^ "Nina Turner: Racism in DNA of United States - CNN Video".
  28. ^ Meyer, Theodoric. "Airlines mount a last stand". POLITICO. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
  29. ^ Choi, Joseph (December 8, 2020). "Sanders surrogate Nina Turner considering run for Fudge seat: report". The Hill. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  30. ^ O'Donnell, Katy; Pager, Tyler; Cassella, Megan (December 8, 2020). "Biden to tap Marcia Fudge to lead housing agency". Politico. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  31. ^ Miller, Zeke; Wiseman, Paul (December 9, 2020). "AP sources: Biden to pick Katherine Tai as top trade envoy". Associated Press. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  32. ^ Folley, Aris (December 9, 2020). "Nina Turner files paperwork for Ohio congressional run". The Hill. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  33. ^ Easley, Jonathan (December 15, 2020). "Nina Turner announces bid for House seat". The Hill.
  34. ^ "Premiere of the Nina Turner Show with Bernie Sanders". The Real News. June 12, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  35. ^ Drum, Nicole (January 17, 2018). "'Black Lightning' Series Premiere Featured Real-Life Activists".
  36. ^ O'Connor, Kevin (July 2, 2018). "Nina Turner Fuels the Bern in Vermont Visit". Bennington Banner. Retrieved January 31, 2020.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Joe Jones
Member of the Cleveland City Council
from Ward 1

Succeeded by
Terrell Pruitt
Ohio Senate
Preceded by
Lance Mason
Member of the Ohio Senate
from the 25th district

Succeeded by
Kenny Yuko