Rep. Marcia Fudge: From Cleveland to Capitol Hill and CBC leadership

Marcia L. Fudge, who’s represented Ohio’s 11th Congressional District since 2008, is a Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress. She sits on the House Agriculture and the Education and the Workforce committees

Born in Cleveland in October 1952, she graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1971 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in business from The Ohio State University and a law degree from Cleveland State University.

She worked as a law clerk, and later in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office as director of budget and finance. She also worked as an auditor for the Estate Tax Department and has served as a visiting judge and a chief referee for arbitration. 

In 1999, in her first attempt to win public office, she was elected mayor of Warrensville Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, and became the first woman and the first African-American to hold that office. She continued as mayor until 2008, the year she entered Congress.

Fudge had been chief of staff for former Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), her friend, when Tubbs Jones first went to Congress in 1999. When Tubbs Jones suddenly died in 2008, Fudge won the special election to finish her term and then was elected to the 11th District seat.

In Congress she has earned a reputation for hard work and standing up for her principles. In 2012, she teamed with Republican and fellow Ohioan Rep. Steve LaTourette, who has since retired, to introduce bipartisan legislation aimed at stabilizing neighborhoods hit by the foreclosure crisis. Hers has been a persistent voice urging the administration to address the disability claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is co-sponsor of the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act and advocates giving tax credits to businesses that hire vets. She has excoriated House leadership and the majority Republicans for cutting the food stamps program from the farm bill.

Fudge came to national prominence in late 2012 for her spirited defense of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, under fire from Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who were saying that Rice’s public statements regarding the terrorist attack on the U.S. annex in Benghazi, Libya, proved she was not qualified to become secretary of State.

“Where did you finish in your class?” Fudge asked at a press conference, alluding to McCain’s admission that he didn’t take college seriously. “Susan Rice was a Rhodes Scholar. How do you say a person like Susan Rice is not qualified? You may not like her, you may not like the administration, but don’t say she’s not qualified.”

Fudge is a past president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and a co-chairwoman of the sorority’s National Social Action Commission. She is a member of the Zion Chapel Baptist Church.

And, lest it go without due notice, Fudge is the founder, in 2012, of the Congressional Rock and Roll Caucus, which has bipartisan membership. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, her hometown, which is also in her district.

“If we can talk together about how to educate people about music and have some fun in a bipartisan way, it will be a good thing,” Fudge said at the time.