I’ve gotten some pretty substantial blow back over my phone call yesterday with ODP Chairman Chris Redfern.  I mean, guys, gimme a break, I just reported the call!

It is news that Chris Redfern’s only call to an Ohio blogger yesterday was me.  Well, the phone call yesterday was spin.  It wasn’t a scoop.  I just reported the spin, which suggests Redfern is terrified of losing his job.  He should be, given the result.

The ODP operation in 2010 was probably the best mid-term grassroots effort I’ve ever seen in Ohio.  It failed.  Is it fair to blame Redfern for this result?  To a degree, of course.  What degree?  And based on what?

To our recent comments.

I am commenting from afar, but I know this much. I was at Impact Ohio following the last election and Chris Redfern was an insufferable cocky guy. Bragging about how his leadership produced victories and now dodging the bullet when he loses

And this.

I ain’t buying. The seeds of last night were planted in December 2005 when the ODP chair was decided. After that marriage of convenience, what Ted wanted, Chris tried to give him, and vice versa. This worked fine in 2006 and 2008 b/c in the blue waves, how could it go wrong.

But it eventually gave us Candidate Lee. Rich the Inevitable. And a 2010 campaign that looked tired, hackneyed, and, worst of all, slow.

Mr. Fern is the wrong messenger. It’s a shame he won’t pay for his disservice to the party b/c in case no one has noticed, Chris Redfern is the last statewide Democrat standing.

And this.

I remember two years ago when Chris Redfern came to one of our county committee meetings and proceeded to tell us how to campaign. Many of the people in the crowd had been winning races since he was in diapers but that didn’t matter to him. He spoke to us like we had never been involved in politics before. Before he left, he asked us what we needed from him. We told him but then he told us that we were wrong. Needless to say, there wasn’t anyone in the crowd that wasn’t happy to see him leave. We never did get what we told him we needed, I guess because he decided we didn’t know what we were talking about. I think tonight proves that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It is important to remember how Chris Redfern became chair. He played hardball inside politics, with Ted Strickland’s support, and owes his job to the Bill Mason and Pat O’Malley strong arming and threats to people’s jobs and livelihoods, that resulted most spectacularly in Stephanie Tubbs Jones being shouted down and told to shut up in public.  That Redfern immediately crowed to me yesterday about how great Ed Fitzgerald (Bill Mason’s boy) would be for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, isn’t a surprise.

But Democrats remember that crap, especially when it’s tinged with race, which the Mason/O’Malley vs. Tubbs Jones incident certainly was. In Cuyahoga County, we re-fight battles like this for decades.   It poisons the atmosphere, long term, among the hardest working activists who harbor the ill will of betrayal for years, and Redfern never understood that tying his chairmanship to that dynamic would yield very poor results long term.

That long term payback may have been partially responsible for this election result. Modern points to Montgomery County’s staggering 14% lower turnout in 2010 versus 2006.  You’ll recall that former Montgomery County chairman Denny Lieberman is the guy who Redfern defeated for chair in 2005. If anyplace in Ohio has been poisoned by Chris Redfern’s rather sickeningly cynical rise to the chairmanship, to the point of large numbers of activists refusing to engage in ODP campaigning, Montgomery’s 2010 turnout number would sure be a place to find it.

We at Plunderbund have long been of the opinion that Chris Redfern was way more lucky than good.  His luck was Tom Noe, Bob Taft, Ken Blackwell, and George W. Bush.  But neither Redfern, nor Ted Strickland, ever acknowledged the luck that put them into power in 2006, and Redfern specifically has always claimed ODP won because he’s so great at what he does.  Now, when the luck runs out, Redfern is blaming the luck running out, the atmosphere, the tsunami, whatever.  No responsibility here.

You can’t argue there was a lot of organization in 2010.  That organization failed at its purpose for existence, namely, to win very close statewide races.  That means there’s a real, systemic problem with the organization itself, which might be rooted in deep seated resentment of Chris Redfern’s chairmanship and the way leadership in ODP makes decisions.

I’ll have more on this, but this post is long enough already.

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  • Bobby

    Compared to other Mid-Western states Ohio came incredibly close to holding the Governor’s seat. I attribute that to ODP and activists all across the state. The stupidity of the GOP did make all of us in Ohio lucky, no doubt, but Redfern’s success is beyond luck. He expanded ODP to an unprecedented size and hade so many FO’s on the ground to build us up everywhere. He invested in Next Gen Dems and consequently youth turnout in Ohio was higher than the national average.

    Redfern is not at blame for the tsunami.

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