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Ohio Democratic Party Regrouping After Election Day Losses

Nov 6, 2014

Ohio Democratic Party leaders and political analysts are weighing in on how the party can bounce back from Tuesday's election results.

Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

Niven: “They simply aren’t relevant as a state party right now.”  
 
As David Niven sees it—Ohio is a fairly split state politically—not too red and not too blue. But to regain its impact, the political science professor from the University of Cincinnati says the Democratic Party needs a complete overhaul.  
 
Niven: “It’s gonna be like GM going through bankruptcy. There’s still a tremendous amount of value and potential there but they’re going to have to redesign things from the ground up.”  
 
That’s the path the party is on—and it basically started when the polls closed on election night. Gov. John Kasich was immediately declared the winner—racking up the second biggest gubernatorial blowout in modern-day Ohio politics.  
 
A few hours later, after the rest of the statewide Republican candidates earned big wins and after he became one of three sitting Ohio House Democrats to be ousted by Republicans, Chris Redfern announced he was stepping down as Democratic Party Chairman.  
 
Leland: “There’s another way of looking at it is the only way we can go is up.”  
 
That’s David Leland—former Ohio Democratic Party chair and newly elected Ohio House member. He acknowledges the long road ahead but is remaining optimistic. As Leland notes—there are about 10 new faces coming to work at the Statehouse as Democratic lawmakers.  
 
Leland: “And I think it’s one of the most talented—strongest group of elected officials that I’ve ever had the chance to talk to.”  
 
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown was the last Ohio Democrat to have a big statewide win. Brown says retooling the party must start with strengthening the foundation and reconnecting with its members from the bottom up.  
 
Brown: “I think that means including strong women’s voices in leadership of the party. It means paying more attention to the African American community—to all segments of organized labor. All the Democrats—we have a much broader party—there are many more people in the Democratic Party generally representing a much more diverse group of people.”  
 
Brown praises downticket candidates Nina Turner, David Pepper, John Carney, and Connie Pillich—but he says more leaders must emerge.  
 
Brown: “I think we start with the four of them and build from the there but we don’t have the farm system we need to develop over the next ten years.”  
 
As for Redfern’s replacement as party chair? Brown says he’s throwing his support behind Denny Wojtanowski—a former state representative and consultant on several recent statewide campaigns.  
 
Leland expects the party to hold a vote for a new chairman in December—when Redfern’s resignation takes effect.