By Alexander Sammon, The American Prospect

As recently as June, the special election to replace Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District looked like a non-event. According to the only available polling, Nina Turner, a well-known progressive running a fairly standard Democratic campaign, led the next closest challenger, moderate city councilmember Shontel Brown, by a 50 to 15 margin. In an exceedingly low turnout primary for a deep-blue seat that went for Biden in 2020 by 60 points, the broader outcome was hardly up for grabs.

But help was on the way. A couple months prior, Brown posted “redbox” messaging on her website, a section full of negative talking points about Turner enclosed in bright red, just in case any “independent” super PAC felt so inclined to spend lavishly on attack ads but was unsure of how best to craft the messaging. (“Redboxing” is a term used by campaign operatives, describing the method by which candidates and political parties publicly share messaging strategy with political action committees, despite being barred from coordinating directly.) To send home the appeal, Brown featured quotes from Mark Mellman, president of the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a famed anti-progressive super PAC, atop her endorsements section, ahead of endorsers with actual name recognition like Hillary Clinton. As The Intercept reported at the time, they made for the “least subtle messages sent to a super PAC since the outside money groups were legalized” a decade ago.

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