CLEVELAND — U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, of Ohio's 11th congressional district, has endorsed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California for President of the United States.
Fudge made the announcement Thursday on MSNBC's Morning Joe program, becoming the first member of Ohio's Democratic congressional delegation to formally back a candidate in the race. The congresswoman cited Harris' "energy," as well as her status as a woman of color.
"I think there's no one better to make the case against No. 45 [President Donald Trump] than Kamala Harris," Fudge said on the show. "I think she is positioned well right now, and she's just going to continue to do better. So I'm excited about it."
National polls have consistently put Harris among the top four (out of more than 20) candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, although her numbers have slipped slightly in recent weeks after she had risen to has high as second in some surveys. Former Vice President Joe Biden is considered the current front-runner.
When asked about why she chose Harris instead of someone like Biden, Fudge mentioned her view of Harris as a "new, fresh face" in the party. However, she had no negative words regarding Biden, and said her choice was more about what she liked about Harris than any concerns about the 77-year-old former VP.
"I like [Joe Biden] a great deal," Fudge explained. "But I had just chosen the candidate that, I think, is best prepared to be the President of the United States."
Fudge's endorsement also comes just over a week after two more mass shootings in the U.S., including one in El Paso, Texas that killed 22 people and is being treated as a white supremacist hate crime. Fudge believes Harris' record dealing with hate crimes as California Attorney General and presidential platform on combating gun violence and domestic terrorism is particularly noteworthy.
"Certainly, white supremacy is not new to this country," she said. "She has developed a plan that will say you can't just sell guns online and there not be a background check, that we can't make domestic terrorism an afterthought. We need to make sure that out counter-terrorism people deal with it directly."
Biden currently leads analytics website FiveThirtyEight's "endorsement primary" with 110 points (with more weight given to endorsers in higher political positions). However, Harris is currently in second with 89 points, the most notable coming from Gov. Gavin Newsom from her home state of California.
Although Harris is still stuck at fourth in most polls, Fudge believes more people will come to like and support the 54-year-old senator once they get to know her.
"Kamala needs to do is keep doing what she is doing," she stated. "The more she meets people, the more they become engaged, the more they like her, and I think that—after Labor Day or getting into the fall—people are going to pay more attention and she is going to start to get a bump. I can almost guarantee you that that's going to happen."
A recent Quinnipiac University poll did show Harris tied with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for second among Ohio Democratic voters. However, both still trailed Biden by 17 points, and he was also the only candidate to win a hypothetical matchup with President Trump among all statewide voters.
Besides Fudge, only two major office holders or DNC members from Ohio have endorsed so far: Former State Sen. Nina Turner is backing Sanders, while Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley threw her support behind South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Joyce Beatty are still officially neutral, while every single Ohio Republican member of Congress has already thrown his support behind Trump.
Fudge's district neighbor, Rep. Tim Ryan of the 13th, is also running for the nomination, but is currently polling at less than 1% in most surveys. Besides Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, he has no major endorsements.