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August 5, 2021 2:42 pm
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US Jewish Groups, Congresswoman Express Concern After Ohio Congressional Candidate Blames ‘Evil Money’ for Defeat

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Congressional candidate Nina Turner stands with Arnold Thrasher, 61, of Pepper Pike, Ohio, who is advocating for Turner outside of a polling place. Photo: Stephen Zenner / SOPA Images/Sipa via Reuters.

Leading American Jewish groups and a Jewish US Representative expressed concern on Thursday after a defeated Ohio congressional candidate made a statement they said carried antisemitic overtones, a charge denied by her campaign.

Nina Turner, who lost Tuesday’s primary race for Ohio’s 11th Congressional district to Councilwoman Shontel Brown, said in her concession speech, “We didn’t lose this race. Evil money manipulated and maligned this election.”

“See, I don’t want you to relent, because it took evil money,” she said. “They took evil money to come in here and do this.”

Jewish voters in the district played a major role in Turner’s loss to Brown, while pro-Israel Democrats and Democratic groups had campaigned for and donated to her opponent.

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The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted in response, “We are extremely troubled by Nina Turner’s comments. Intentional or not, they echo long-standing antisemitic tropes.”

“Our local office is reaching out to her to discuss,” the organization said.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Washington Free Beacon, “At the minimum, she owes the Jewish community in Cleveland an apology.”

“And if not, then unfortunately you have to put a person like that in the column of someone who is an enemy of your community, because in effect they’re justifying Jew hatred,” he said.

Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz commented on Twitter that Turner’s comments proved that support for Brown “was a mitzvah.”

Asked to respond to the ADL’s comments, Turner’s campaign told The Algemeiner, “Nina Turner was opposed by corporate money, Republican money, and Trump-allies’ money. That is evil money. And it’s not limited to any race, creed, or background. It hurts democracy.”

Turner was backed by prominent left-wing Democrats like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while establishment figures like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) endorsed Brown, along with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Jewish voters were seen as a decisive bloc in handing Brown the victory, with the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) saying Tuesday that it “knew that Jewish voters could make the difference in this election given their relatively high turnout numbers and overwhelming support.”

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.”

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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