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Former East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer running for Ohio's 11th Congressional District seat as a Republican

A longtime Democrat, Brewer earned the GOP nomination during the May primary and will face incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown in the general election.

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Eric J. Brewer spent four years as the Mayor of East Cleveland from 2006-09, and in that time he says he was "the only mayor over four years to keep the city out of fiscal emergency."

Brewer also takes credit for helping reform dysfunctional police and fire departments, but was not able to secure a second term.

"I was not re-elected after pictures were released the day my father died that [were] taken from my personal computer," he told 3News in a recent interview.

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Photos showing the then-mayor cross-dressing were sent out to voters, with Brewer at the time accusing the police force of leaking them (something Chief Scott Gardner denied). Brewer went on to lose to his eventual successor Gary Norton in the primary, but doesn't let the past rattle him.

"I didn't care about it then," Brewer said when asked if he thought voters would hold such photos against him today.

Brewer has since worked to move on from that episode, and as an activist would later play a starring role in the eventual closure of the toxic landfill on Noble Road. He took a chance at running for Cleveland mayor in 2017, but finished a distant eighth in an 11-person primary.

Now, the Vietnam War veteran has set his sights on Ohio's 11th Congressional District, and believes his chances for the seat are good. Earlier this month, voters gave the former longtime Democrat Brewer the Republican nomination, and he will run against incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown in the general election.

"I already know that Nina [Turner]'s people are not going to support Shontel," Brewer claimed, alluding to the acrimonious primary campaign between the two Democratic rivals. "I already know because they've been calling me."

Brewer says he gets his inspiration from Carl and Louis Stokes, two legendary Democratic politicians who changed the Cleveland area. Despite his history on the left side of the political spectrum, Brewer tells us his heart has always been with the GOP. 

"The anti-lynching laws in this state, the freedoms that we have here for women to be able to give birth to their children, saving children from dying, open records laws, the gun laws that we have—being able to carry guns without all these restrictions—those are American rights," he stated, "and I think the Republican Party better expresses American values."

Still, Brewer has a tough battle ahead in November, as no Republican has won the geographical seat (either as District 11 or the long-gone District 21) since Harry C. Gahn way back in 1920. Despite the long odds, Brewer things those fortunes will change in 2022.

"I'm going to have the party behind me," he said of the GOP. "I'm also going to have Democrats behind me who know that I'm the better-qualified candidate."

The last time a Republican won District 11 in any form was 1980, when J. William Stanton held the seat that was then based across much of Ashtabula, Geauga, and Lake counties. Following the latest round of redistricting, the 11th now rests solely in Cuyahoga County and includes the entire cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland within its boundaries.

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