Bernie Sanders earns Nina Turner’s endorsement in Ohio

Nina Turner, former state senator and engagement chair for the Ohio Democratic Party, announced yesterday that she is endorsing Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

Normally individual endorsements aren’t that big of a deal — and Hillary Clinton is still dominating the overall endorsement primary — but Turner’s support is significant. Here’s why.

First, it was widely held that Turner would eventually back Clinton. Bill Clinton fundraised for her (eventually unsuccessful) bid to become Ohio’s Secretary of State. She also sat on the board for Ready for Hillary, the now-defunct super PAC that supported Clinton’s candidacy before she entered the race. So while she never did officially endorse Clinton, her current support for Sanders does feel like a bit of a defection — one for which Turner is currently getting heavily criticized for by Clinton supporters both in person and online.

Nina Turner

Nina Turner

Second, and perhaps more importantly, her switch — to the extent that it can be called a switch — has less to do with Clinton and more to do with Sanders. As Cleveland.com reported, “She said Clinton did not lose her support so much as Sanders earned it with his attention to issues dear to her. And she stressed that her decision had nothing to do with controversy over Clinton’s private email server.”

Turner cited Sanders’s positions on voting rights and wage increases as the two primary issues that helped her make her decision. And she comes by those priorities honestly, having fought hard against numerous assaults on voting rights in Ohio under John Kasich and been a vocal supporter of the #FightFor15 movement advocating for higher minimum wages.

However, at least when it comes to voting rights, it’s unclear what, exactly, Sanders did that gave him an edge over Clinton. They both have solid platforms on voting rights, as both have called for nationwide automatic voter registration, both have called for expanded early voting and both have gone out of their way to attack Republican voting restrictions as the cynical, undemocratic tools of disenfranchisement that they are. What’s more, the state-by-state legal challenges to Republican restrictions on ballot access are coming from lawyers affiliated with Clinton’s campaign. At the end of the day, progressives may have plenty of issues with Clinton, but voting rights shouldn’t be one of them.

Instead, Turner’s support for Sanders likely has more to do with his support for raising the national minimum wage to $15. Not for fast food workers, and not just in big cities, but for everyone. Clinton, who had previously hedged on the minimum wage, recently called for an increase to $12 while “[encouraging] other communities to go even higher.” That’s better than nothing, but probably not good enough for Turner, who is a vocal supporter of a $15 minimum wage.

Finally, Turner’s support is of amplified significance for the Sanders campaign given its current underperformance with women and people of color. That a prominent woman of color, and an emerging leader in the progressive movement, has publicly said that Hillary may be good but Sanders is better, could serve as a more significant driver of public opinion than an individual endorsement usually would be.

So while individual endorsements usually aren’t that newsworthy — politicians like to back winners, meaning that endorsements usually more of a prediction than a statement of principle — this one matters. Nina Turner’s case for Sanders — that even if it doesn’t look like he’s going to win, he more closely represents her political views, and isn’t that what primary elections are all about? — is one that Sanders needs more prominent voices outside of his campaign to make.

She’ll be introducing him at Cleveland State University on Monday to do exactly that.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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12 Responses to “Bernie Sanders earns Nina Turner’s endorsement in Ohio”

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  4. trinu says:

    My point is that Sanders is more electable (look at the polling data for his popularity among independents and how he matches up against the GOP). The Clinton campaign, aided by the mainstream media, which is owned almost entirely by billionaires, has been lying to the democrats on that issue, because she knows its one othe few areas where she can lie convincingly.

  5. Indigo says:

    Electability matters. A lot! Without it, you’re voting for President Trump.

  6. Indigo says:

    Yes. There is much to reclaim. Before Jeb was governor, we here in Florida had model sunshine laws in place. Most of the laws are still on the books but first Jeb and now Skeletor have discovered how to circumvent and/or simply ignore them. We’ve got one of the least transparent gubernatorial administrations in the nation now. Reclaiming our former transparency is . . . well, it depends on how many T-Partei voters we have in state by the next round of elections. Things don’t look good on that front. The turn-out for last week’s mayoral election in Orlando generated 12% of the eligible voters. We are deep in don’t-care territory. And I’m convinced it’s not just a Florida thing, it’s national.

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  8. trinu says:

    Sanders is more popular among independents than Clinton but her supporters continue to peddle her as more “electable” because that’s the only card they have to play, and they’re aided and abetted by the corporate owned media, who have suddenly abandoned their “both sides of the story” approach to parrot pro-Hillary propoganda.

  9. Doug105 says:

    It’s been estimated by some that if all things had stayed roughly the same the minimum wage would now be around $22/hr.

  10. BeccaM says:

    Good. I’m glad to see the left beginning stop with the position of ‘holding the line’ against decreases and cuts in progressive policies and laws, and instead start arguing it’s long past time to recover the ground already lost.

    To change metaphors only slightly, when you play defense only, you inevitably lose. It may take time — decades in this case — but it always happens.

    Whenever a conservative or center-right Dem suggests that raising the minimum wage increases unemployment, it’s a bullshit lie. Just like the way tax cuts never increase gov’t revenues and always explode the deficit, increasing the minimum wage not only causes no appreciable effect on unemployment, but it ends up being extremely stimulative for the overall economy.

    Another angle often played is that the inexperienced and the young shouldn’t be able to draw what is portrayed as some kind of extravagant adults-only wage. This is also a rubbish assertion because first of all, it’s not that much money. It only seems like a lot because minimum wage is crap. Moreover, with what college costs these days, don’t the young need to have some means of saving for it and/or paying off their debts. (Don’t even get me started on how higher education really should be free, as it is the ultimate investment a country can make in its citizens…) Even if not that, again, people need to have the means to save for the future, whether it be a family, buying a home or car, or retirement.

    One of the main reasons so many families are living hand-to-mouth with almost no savings and more than one job needed just to get by is precisely because wages have stagnated and declined since the 1970s, but some areas such as housing, education and medicine have experienced hyperinflation. A $15/hr minimum wage would go a long way to undoing the harm.

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  12. Jennifer Howell says:

    This might give some clue as to Sanders’ pull on voting rights. As with most issues, it would seem that Sanders came to it earlier than Hillary Clinton. If the link doesn’t work, go to youtube and type in “Bernie Sanders the only white guy to show up” It might also not hurt that , last I checked HRC is the only Dem candidate without a full, published racial justice platform. Sanders had a thorough one up the day after the Seattle protest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayqmhfwEURY

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