First of all….nice touch, Mr. Chairman. This is how it’s done. Everyone gets kicked in the teeth, is feeling low, and the day after the election, the state chair is making calls to give folks a pep talk. Bravo. Someone tell Lee Fisher that.
Redfern basically echoed this post, to say this result was not as bad as it’s made out to be. (a post which I serendipitously published minutes before he called). To quote, “you know what the day after election day is? Wednesday.” Redfern said that the problem in 1994 was “institutional”, referring to how close ODP came to losing major party status. He noted that after most mid-terms, most state parties practically disappear. In 1994, ODP didn’t just disappear, it was buried, the earth had been salted over it, and they were hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Redfern made it very clear that ODP is going to stay active at the grassroots after 2010 to a degree that never happens after a mid-term, let alone a mid-term tsunami. Redfern said he planned to keep all the 350 field staff engaged with the ODP, if not on staff. I asked how many would stay on the payroll, and Redfern said that depends on budget, but of course not all would stay on staff.
We talked a bit about re-districting. Redfern expects the census to take 2 seats from Ohio. Redfern said he planned to keep Jon Husted to his promise of putting re-districting on the ballot. Redfern does not believe, as has been rumored, that Dennis Kucinich and Marcia Fudge would be pitted against each other by a new map. Voting rights restrictions would probably keep Marcia safe.
One point where we disagreed was on Ed Fitzgerald in Cuyahoga County, but that disagreement went unsaid. Redfern mentioned Fitzgerald and Stu Garson by name as beginning to rebuild the county party. I just kept mum. I asked why Cuyahoga turnout was so low. Redfern basically blamed the county corruption scandal, which is fine. But I don’t see a single thing in Ed Fitzgerald’s operation that would suggest he can rebuild the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party to the point of being a turnout machine, and this election is Exhibit A.
Fitzgerald was invisible at the grassroots this entire campaign, including during his primary, which I had a front row seat to observe as a county council candidate. My target precincts in council district 7 were the highest turnout precincts in District 7 in the city of Cleveland, by far, and maybe in the entire city. I saw no indication all summer of grassroots activity for Fitzgerald in those precincts, which he certainly would have targeted if he knew what the hell he was doing. This needs to be fixed, or there won’t be any party to rely on for turnout in 2012, yet again, and ODP will have to do it all itself, yet again.
I then asked him to please tell President Obama that he’s not allowed to talk during my mother’s soap operas, which she records to watch later, and which today were erased by the President’s press conference.
All in all, breaking news – Russo and Redfern have a cordial conversation! That must really mean it’s not all that bad today in Ohio.