Late last month, former Ohio state senator and Bernie Sanders ally Nina Turner announced that she would run again for congress this year. The decision comes less than six months after her loss against Marcia Fudge protege Shontel Brown in the special election for the same seat.
It also comes after months of uncertainty and speculation about Turner’s next move, particularly after she was quoted by political‘s West Wing Playbook in a piece “Presented by Walmart” and titled “Rage of the left-wing machine.”
The piece began with a series of claims which were true at the time—and largely remain true today: “Voting rights legislation appears to be going nowhere. Student loan collection is expected to restart early next year. Some of the Trump administration’s border policies remain in effect. And the $6 trillion social spending and climate action bill Democrats had once envisioned had already been whittled down to less than $2 trillion over a decade, leaving many progressive priorities on the cutting room table.”
The writers then suggested that Biden’s handling of these issues has led to progressives’ “entertaining the idea of a primary challenge to Biden in 2024.” An interviewer asked Turner if she thought there would be such a challenge. “Without a doubt,” she said.
These three words were enough for the authors to imagine Turner herself as such a challenger.
“Any primary challenge of Biden would likely be unsuccessful,” political what quick to assert. “But someone like Turner, a dynamic speaker on the stump who often opened Sanders’ presidential campaign rallies and would likely be able to raise money online, would at the very least be an unwelcome annoyance for the Biden team.” The suggestion that Turner herself would confront Biden in a primary was conveyed with an almost palpable sense of excitement by political‘s journalists—driven perhaps by the prospect of all the headlines and clicks such a candidacy would generate. But the coverage does prompt some questions perhaps less facetious and more grounded in present realities: Where is Nina Turner these days? What has she been doing since her loss to Brown? And, now that she’s running, what lessons is she taking with her into 2022? Turner spoke to the nation to answer these questions herself.
My first interview with her took place on the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, which was followed over the next several days by Biden’s Voting rights speech in Georgia and the failed effort by Senate Democrats to change the filibuster rules and get a legislative win on the issue ahead of midterms. A follow-up interview took place on January 25, the day before she announced her candidacy.