|Member of the Ohio Senate|
from the 25th district
September 15, 2008 - December 31, 2014
|Member of the Cleveland City Council|
December 7, 1967
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Education||Cuyahoga Community College|
Cleveland State University (BA, MA)
Nina Hudson Turner (born December 7, 1967) is an American politician from Ohio. A member of the Democratic Party, she was a Cleveland City Councillor from 2006 to 2008 and an Ohio State Senator from 2008 until 2014.
She was the Democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State in 2014 but lost in the general election, garnering 35.5 percent of the vote. She was later a surrogate for Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential campaign. In 2016, she was also offered the role of vice presidential running mate by Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein but declined. In 2017, Turner became president of the Sanders-affiliated group Our Revolution. On February 21, 2019, Turner was named a national co-chair of Sanders's 2020 campaign.
Turner is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She was born Nina Hudson to teen parents, the first of seven children. Her father and mother had split up by the time she was five. At 14, she began working part-time jobs, giving "every dime" she earned to her mother. She graduated from Cleveland's John F. Kennedy High School in 1986.
She did not continue her education immediately, instead taking a variety of jobs, including working at a fast food outlet and a Payless shoe store. While at Payless, she met Jeffery Turner, who she later married. Subsequently, she returned to school to earn an Associate of Arts degree from Cuyahoga Community College. Her mother, who had been struggling with high blood pressure all her life, died in 1992 at the age of 42. Turner completed her degree, followed by a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and then a Master of Arts degree in 1997 from Cleveland State University.
She began her professional career as a legislative aide in 2001 to then-state Senator Rhine McLin. Turner returned to her hometown to serve in the administration of Mayor Michael White where she was quickly promoted to Executive Assistant of Legislative Affairs. She later lobbied on behalf of Cleveland's schoolchildren at the state and federal levels as the Director of Government Affairs for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Turner made an unsuccessful run for Cleveland City Council in 2001, but was defeated by the incumbent, Joe Jones. In November 2004, Jones resigned his City Council seat. His wife, Tonya Jones, was the top vote-getter in a September nine-way, non-partisan primary race to select a candidate to fill Jones' seat. In the November 2005 election, Turner defeated Tonya Jones to become the Council Member for Ward One, the first African American woman in the seat.
Turner served on Cleveland City Council from 2006 to 2008. In March 2006, she traveled to Oxford, England to participate in the invitation-only Oxford Round Table, hosted by Oxford University, where scholars from around the world gathered to discuss issues of diversity.
In September 2008, Senator Lance Mason resigned his 25th District seat in the Ohio Senate to accept an appointment to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Turner was unanimously selected by the Ohio Senate Democratic caucus to serve the remainder of Mason's four-year Senate term. She resigned her City Council seat to accept the appointment on September 15, 2008. In the 128th General Assembly, Turner served as the Ranking Minority member on the Senate Highways & Transportation and Judiciary Criminal Justice Committees.
Turner won a full term in 2010, running unopposed in the general election. She was elected as Minority Whip halfway through the 129th General Assembly. She served as Minority Whip in the following General Assembly. By then her district consisted of the eastern side of Cuyahoga County as well as half of Lake County (including the Village of Fairport Harbor, the Village of Grand River, the City of Painesville and parts of Painesville Township; but excluding the City of Kirtland, the Village of Kirtland Hills, the Village of Waite Hill, the City of Willoughby Hills and most of the City of Mentor).
In 2019, she said of the time:
"I remember very clearly that my colleagues were always referred to as Senator. Senator this, and Senator that. We could be in the same room ... and I would be Nina. And for me, it is important that my first name is Senator, my last name is Turner, because you earned that title. Sometimes women are not given the kind of respect that they have earned, and that they deserve."
As a political statement against legislation attempting to restrict women's access to contraception and abortion, in March 2012, Turner introduced a bill to regulate men's reproductive health. Under her proposed S.B. 307, before getting a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs, a man would have to get a notarized affidavit signed by a recent sexual partner affirming his impotency, consult with a sex therapist and receive a cardiac stress test. She said the proposed statute would be parallel to recent legislation written by male legislators restricting women's reproductive health and that she was equally concerned about men's reproductive health.
"Even the FDA recommends that doctors make sure that assessments are taken that target the nature of the symptoms, whether it's physical or psychological," Turner said. "I certainly want to stand up for men's health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman's womb." The proposed legislation was not meant to be passed, but as a way of bringing attention to similar bills targeted towards women.
In January 2014, Turner led unsuccessful efforts to change Ohio's rape custody law. It permits visitation and custody by men who father children via rape or sexual assault against a woman or girl. Turner wanted to protect rape victims/survivors and children conceived as a result of rape by preventing parental custody rights from being provided to rapists who fathered their children. She said it may be difficult for people to contemplate that a person would desire parental rights for a child conceived due to rape, though it occurs. She and fellow Democrat Charleta Tavares introduced SB-171. It would allow rape victims to file court claims terminating their attacker's parental rights and permit a mother to place her child up for adoption without being required to seek her attacker's approval. The bill was stalled in the senate.
On July 1, 2013, Turner declared her candidacy for Ohio Secretary of State, challenging Republican Jon Husted. On September 18, 2014, Bill Clinton officially supported Turner's candidacy. Turner was defeated 60%-35% by Husted.
|2014||Nina Turner||1,074,475||35.5%||Jon Husted||1,811,020||59.8%||Kevin Knedler||141,292||4.7%|
In the 2016 presidential election, Turner initially supported Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination but switched her support to Bernie Sanders. After Clinton won the nomination, Turner was invited by Jill Stein to become the Green Party's nominee for Vice President, but she declined saying, "I believe that the Democratic Party is worth fighting for."
In 2017, Turner became the president and public face of Our Revolution, a progressive political action organization spun out of Senator Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign. In December of that year she served as a member of the DNC Unity Reform Commission in Washington D.C. to examine whether the caucus process needed to be reformed in the wake of the 2016 election.
According to a May 2018 review by Politico Our Revolution had become "flailing" and "in disarray" a year into her leadership. By May 2018, the organization's monthly fundraising totals were one-third of what they had been May 2017. Again, according to Politico, the group operated primarily as a vehicle for Sanders and had "shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor--despite possessing Sanders' email list, the envy of the Democratic Party--and can claim no major wins in 2018 as its own." There was infighting in the group, as board members and Sanders' 2016 presidential delegates questioned Turner's actions and motives. Figures in the organization queried whether Turner was using the organization for a presidential run of her own. They questioned whether she was settling scores with the Democratic National Committee from 2016 and criticized her hiring associates to senior positions within the organization. One of Turner's hires to a senior position was Tezlyn Figaro, who frequently appeared on Fox News to praise Trump and has made anti-immigration comments. Our Revolution also endorsed Dennis Kucinich in the race for the Democratic nomination for the 2018 Ohio governorship; questions were raised about Turner's close relation to Kucinich's running mate.
"In many ways I see this as a ministry," says Turner. I am on a mission to help make this world a better place. I couldn't think of anything better to be doing right now than to help the man who has the heart soul agreement to bring about a revolution in this country. The type of revolution that will not leave working class blacks, whites, Latinx, Asian and indigenous people behind. There are many things I could be doing right now, but I'm on a mission. This is personal."
She has appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews,Meet the Press,Politics Nation and other programs in support of the candidate. She also appeared to back Sanders on CNN's State of the Union.
In October 2019, she appeared with other female campaign managers at the Citizen by CNN event in New York City.
Turner has made multiple appearances on C-SPAN, the first being a 2012 meeting as a State Senator.
Turner is married to Jeffery Turner, Sr., a lieutenant in the Ohio National Guard. They have a son, Jeffery Turner, Jr, and the men reside in Cleveland while Turner works out of Washington, D.C. Turner is a Christian and has publicly stated how her faith forms a basis for her political convictions.