Rep. Marcia Fudge (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st full term.
Born: Oct. 29, 1952, Cleveland .
Home: Warrensville Heights.
Education: OH St. U., B.S. 1975; Cleveland St. U., J.D. 1983.
Elected office: Warrensville Heights mayor, 2000-08.
Professional Career: Practicting atty.; Aide to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, 1991-2000.
The new congresswoman from the 11th District is Marcia Fudge, who succeeded her former mentor and friend Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, after the five-term Tubbs Jones died on Aug. 20, 2008, from a cerebral aneurysm. Fudge, like many African-Americans of her generation, was greatly influenced by the civil rights movement and got active politically when she was young.
|Marcia Fudge (D)||Unopposed|
|Marcia Fudge (D)||212,667||(85%)||($94,049)|
|Thomas Pekarek (R)||36,708||(15%)|
|Marcia Fudge (D)||10,753||(74%)|
|Jeffrey Johnson (D)||2,028||(14%)|
|Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D)||Unopposed|
She grew up in Cleveland, but her family moved to the suburb of Shaker Heights when she was 12. During high school, Fudge volunteered with “Young Folks for Stokes,” a coalition of young people helping to elect Carl Stokes mayor. She helped with get-out-the-vote efforts and with distributing campaign literature. After graduating from the Ohio State University with a degree in business administration, she received her law degree from Cleveland State University. She practiced mainly criminal defense law in the Cleveland area, along with some probate and corporate work, until she went to work for Tubbs Jones. Fudge and Tubbs Jones first met as members of the national Delta Sigma Theta Sorority alumnae association. Fudge later served as national president of the group of predominately African-American women. When Tubbs Jones became the Cuyahoga County prosecutor in 1991, Fudge served as her administrative assistant. When her boss was elected to Congress in 1998, Fudge came with her to Washington as chief of staff.
After a few years, Fudge felt the pull of elected office herself. When the Warrensville Heights mayor resigned after pleading guilty to improper solicitation, she decided to run. She faced four other candidates in the Democratic primary, including the interim mayor, and came just two votes short of the required 50% to avoid a runoff. On the next ballot, she won, becoming the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of the city. In nine years as mayor, Fudge focused on economic development and claimed credit for creating 3,000 new jobs and bringing in $500 million for development and infrastructure. “I believe people started to feel really good about where they lived, and I think that when people feel good about where they live, that pride transitions into so many things,” Fudge said. She also built relationships with other community leaders and business executives.
Tubbs Jones’ sudden death just a few days before the Democratic National Convention in Denver saddened local and national Democrats, and her funeral in Cleveland drew a huge crowd, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had recently named Tubbs Jones to chair the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. In deciding to seek the nomination, Fudge said she was motivated by a desire to carry on her political mentor’s legacy. “People didn’t really understand what an impact she had on this district, and on the nation, until she was gone,” Fudge said.
Since Tubbs Jones already had won the Democratic primary before her death, members of the district’s Democratic Executive Committee named her replacement on the ballot. Fudge called each member of the committee to explain why she would be the best choice to carry on Tubbs Jones’ legacy. The strategy paid off. There were four candidates, and the committee nominated Fudge with 175 votes. Former state Sen. C. J. Prentiss was a distant second, with 64 votes. In the ten-way special primary on October 14 to fill the remainder of Tubbs Jones’ term, Fudge cruised to victory with 74%. She won the general election 85%-15% and had no Republican challenger for the Nov. 18 special general election, allowing her to be sworn in before other freshmen members that year.
In the House, Fudge got seats on the Education and Labor Committee and on the Science and Technology Committee, where she is vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. She also joined the Congressional Black Caucus. In April 2009, she traveled with other caucus members to Cuba to meet with Cuban President Raúl Castro to try to improve U.S.-Cuba relations.