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August 4, 2021 6:11 pm
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Pro-Israel Democrats Cheer Shontel Brown’s Upset ‘Victory’ in Ohio Congressional Race

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Shontel Brown gets on the phone after learning she won Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. Photo: Stephen Zenner / SOPA Images / Sipa USA via Reuters

Pro-Israel and Democratic Jewish groups heralded the upset victory of Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown in Tuesday’s party primary in Cleveland, Ohio.

Brown, backed by the party establishment, overcame a 35-point polling deficit to beat progressive candidate Nina Turner, a former state senator who was endorsed by prominent left-wing Democrats like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The win makes her all but guaranteed to represent Ohio’s 11th Congressional District after November’s special election, held to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge, who was appointed to the Biden Cabinet.

“[We] knew that Jewish voters could make the difference in this election given their relatively high turnout numbers and overwhelming support,” said the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) on Tuesday. “We were right.”

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“Voter turnout in areas with large Jewish populations was  — on average  — double the overall turnout in the district … The results speak for themselves and it’s clear the Jewish vote made a critical difference for Shontel Brown in this close race.”

Mark Mellman, President of the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, which spent heavily advocating for Brown in the race, said her victory “reaffirms that being pro-Israel is good politics as well as wise policy.”

“This is a tremendous victory, not only for Councilwoman Brown personally, but also for the pro-Biden-Harris, pro-Israel majority in the Democratic Party,” he said Tuesday in a press release, saying that the group’s polling had indicated primary voters in the district consider themselves pro-Israel by a large margin.

The contest came to be seen as part of the larger struggle between progressive and centrist Democrats over the direction of the party — with figures like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) backing Brown, along with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Jeff Mendelsohn, Executive Director of the advocacy group Pro-Israel America (PIA), commented that the “pro-Israel grassroots community has once again demonstrated its conviction and willingness to step up for candidates who value the US-Israel relationship.”

Delivering a victory speech to supporters on Tuesday night, Brown thanked her “Jewish brothers and sisters” for backing her campaign, and highlighted a 2018 visit to Israel.

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