DES MOINES, Iowa – A one-time top supporter of Hillary Clinton in Ohio has decided to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid instead.
Former state Sen. Nina Turner has made a name for herself nationally as a prominent voice on voting rights and other issues, including her support of Clinton. She was an active surrogate for the Ready for Hillary super PAC, which worked to draft Clinton into the 2016 race, holding an event on the group’s behalf in Cleveland and speaking at their National Finance Council meeting in New York City last fall.
While Turner no longer holds elected office, her endorsement is still a notable pickup for Sanders and addresses two of his biggest weakness: A lack of endorsements from Democratic officials and limited support from African-American voters.
Turner also sat on the board of Correct the Record, the pro-Clinton super PAC founded by Democratic activist David Brock that has distributed unflattering research about Sanders to reporters. And last year, former President Bill Clinton supported Turner’s unsuccessful bid for Ohio secretary of state.
Turner currently serves as the Ohio Democratic Party's engagement chair, but she will take a leave of absence to work for Sanders. Turner will start this weekend in Iowa, where she’ll speak on Sanders’ behalf around the second Democratic presidential debate here. She will also introduce him at a rally in Ohio next week.
Turner told The Cleveland Plain Dealer she is supporting Sanders because of his stance on voting rights. "Sen. Turner is a star in the Democratic Party. Bernie is very proud to have someone with so much talent and commitment join the grassroots campaign to fix the rigged economy propped up by a corrupt campaign finance system," Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs said in a statement.
Clinton has support from many more prominent officials in the state, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, former Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, along with Reps. Joyce Beatty and Tim Ryan.
Despite her work for Ready for Hillary, Turner said she never formally endorsed Clinton. But that’s not how former Ready for Hillary communications Seth Bringman sees it.
"Sen. Turner and I shared the stage together at events across Ohio, and she made her support for Hillary perfectly clear,” he said.
Bringman is also a former communications director for the Ohio Democratic Party and accused Turner of abandoning the party. "I am very disappointed that my friend Nina Turner is abandoning Ohio Democrats in our fight to rebuild our state Party. No one in Ohio asked her to do this,” he added.