By now you’ve probably heard that Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern might have a challenger when the state Central Committee meets in April. That’s to be expected, I suppose. We just had elections. The reorganization meeting is coming up. If someone wants to run, now’s the time.

Lauren wrote a good post yesterday about why she is supporting Redfern. And while I also support the chairman, that’s a topic for a different post.

I fully recognize that there are going to be other Democrats out there who dislike or disagree with Chairman Redfern, usually over which candidates he supported or would support, and they certainly have the right to challenge him if they like. That’s how the system is set up. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And when the committee meets this month they’ll vote and get it all resolved so we can focus on getting President Obama and Sherrod Brown reelected.

I can’t realistically see a scenario where Redfern loses – he has the support of Sherrod Brown, Ted Strickland, Ed Fitzgerald and SEIU announced today they were supporting him – but we’re still going to see both sides angling for position here and lining up their supporters in the days and weeks to come. Again, that’s to be expected.

The challenge to Redfern is politics as usual. It’s not that interesting of a story, really, and you’d have to be completely off your rocker to believe it is the least bit similar to the Kasich/DeWine fight on the Republican side.

Yes, Chris Redfern and Kevin DeWine are both party chairmen. But that’s where the similarity ends.

I understand the Dispatch trying to tie the two stories together with their spooky headlines like “Forces are gathering to oust Chris Redfern as chairman” and “Both major Ohio parties are distracted by internal battles”. But now the always unpredictable Jennifer Brunner is getting involved – and from what I can tell she seems to be trying to tie Chris Redfern to all the negative press Kasich and DeWine have been receiving.

An email sent on March 31st from Brunner’s Courage PAC claims she wants to present “Just the facts” about Redfern and his challenger Anthony Giardini, but the email quickly devolves into a list of scary scenarios and statements that seem to imply Redfern is using the same unethical and possibly illegal tactics as Kasich.

In one part of the email she discusses the “intimidating scenario” at the 2005 committee meeting where Redfern was originally elected without the use of a secret ballot and she asks: “will the vote be by secret ballot” at the next meeting? The implication is that Redfern doesn’t want a secret ballot so he can intimidate voters, but she fails to mention that national Democratic party bylaws state that all “votes shall not be taken by secret ballot.”

She also encourages the reader to:

Demand a fair process. Demand a democratic process. Demand that the process be clean, without bullying or promises of anything of value. It’s time to require that the way we do things is fair and clean

The implication here is simple: The process under Redfern has not been fair or democratic, and there has been bullying and bribing happening.

But no proof is provided and no specifics are discussed. It’s just a lot of questions like the ones used in push polls e.g. “if you found out Chris Redfern was using the same tactics as John Kasich would you still be inclined to vote for him?”

It’s deceptive and, to be honest, really disappointing seeing this type of attack coming from Jennifer Brunner. We really don’t need this during an important election year.  Jennifer and her PAC have every right to support Redfern’s challenger, but this type of message only helps perpetuate the myth that the Democratic party is facing the same challenges as the Republicans, when it’s so amazingly clear that we are NOT.

A quick comparison of the two “battles” should prove my point:

  • DeWine is facing a well funded and vicious attack by the sitting governor of the state of Ohio who has yet to announce the committee candidate he would like to see replace DeWine. Redfern, in the other hand, is being challenged by a relatively-unknown attorney from Lorain County who was recently elected Chair of the Lorain County Democratic Party.
  • In the case mentioned by Brunner at the 2005 meeting, the dispute was over the Democratic national committee bylaws being properly followed. But at the most recent meeting of the Republican state central committee, DeWine actually changed the bylaws in order to help him gain an upper hand.
  • The challenge to Redfern wasn’t announced until after the recent committee members were already elected in early March. But with Kasich and DeWine, the challenge started a few days after the elections last November.  And it just got worse from there…
  • After calling for DeWine to step down, and having DeWine refuse, Kasich and his team immediately went into action. Members of Kasich’s staff left their jobs to join Kasich’s lobbyist friends on their ‘oust DeWine’ effort.
  • Kasich actively recruited candidates to run for central committee against those he percieved to be loyal to DeWine. Kasich’s people threatened, pressured and made promises to members of his own party in order to get his people on the central committee ballots.
  • John Kasich personally recorded robocalls to support his handpicked candidates and used his own campaign runs to pay for the calls.

Brunner says in her email that “all we want are the facts”, well there they are. We may have some minor internal squabbles, but it’s nothing like the disaster over on the GOP side.   Republicans are tearing themselves apart in Ohio and nationally, blowing tons of money beating each other up. We aren’t.  And anyone who tells you otherwise is either misinformed, trying to gin up the story for their own purposes or just plain full of crap.