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.


  • Haywood

    Just more of the same for Jennifer Brunner. She’s supporting Warren Taylor as an independent candidate for Congress, who is running against a proven progressive in Pat Lang.

    Anyone who publicly praises John Kasich for his agenda and backs a candidate who has bashed Senator Sherrod Brown in the media doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously as a faithful Democrat.

    Athens Messenger, December 7, 2011

    Dairyman seeking to challenge Sherrod Brown

    Snowville Creamery co-owner Warren Taylor is circulating
    candidacy petitions to challenge U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in the
    2012 election.

    Taylor announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination
    Tuesday at a news conference held in Athens to discuss the dangers
    of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, called fracking.

    Taylor said he decided to run for the position once he realized
    current politicians care more about their political careers than
    the impact their decisions have on the community.

    “There is no way we can do the right thing when politicians who
    hold so much power are beholden to corporate money,” he said

    Taylor said that while he does appreciate what Brown, a
    Democrat, has done, he receives corporate donations, which Taylor
    said impacts Brown’s ability to push for the issues that affect the
    public. Brown is running for re-election in 2012.

    Taylor said the fracking issue and the debate over its safety
    mirrors the activism in the 1960s over clean water and air and the
    damage strip mining had done. He said that similarity — which
    ultimately resulted in the passage of legislation to protect those
    basic human rights — and the lack of regulation over this
    controversial procedure urged him to seek signatures to serve in
    the U.S. Senate.

    Taylor said a statement he saw in a recent newspaper article
    called environmentalists who are concerned about fracking
    extremists. It prompted him to get petitions and see if he could be
    elected to change the tone of the environmental debate in

    Taylor said he has to get 1,000 signatures to be placed on the
    ballot, and the deadline is today. Taylor said if he becomes a
    candidate, he pledges to not take donations of more than $1,000
    from any individual, and no donations from any corporations.

    Snowville Creamery is in Meigs County.


  • I’m not sure if I made this clear but I really like Jennifer Brunner.  I supported her, and voted for her, for SOS and for her Senate run against Fisher.  And I’d seriously consider supporting her is she decides to run again.    

    But her Courage PAC has made some really strange choices that I find difficult to understand, for example supporting a pro-choice candidate  (Brockmeier), a pro-life candidate (Fende) and an independent (Warren) running against a Democrat (Lang) in the recent primary.

  • Portia A. Boulger

     I thought I liked her, but now, I don’t know. Lot’s of questions since I heard Kasich give her shout outs at the State of the State speech. Hmmm….

    How in God’s Heaven can we trust Jennifer due to innuendos and possible falsehoods against Redfern?

  • brew2

    I feared a replubicanesque cat-fight for chairperson, but you rightfully point out that it is democracy in action. I really appreciate your respectful tone to each side and I, too, am disappointed in Jennifer’s comments and almost innuendos.

  • WellDuh

    Pretty sure this is Cordray’s effort to oust Redfern and put a stop to the “Again with Ted” campaign that the Chairman is so nonchalantly spearheading at ODP. Jennifer is just helping to get rid of the garbage and allowing Cordray to position himself within the Party as the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination in 2014. 

    Brunner isn’t tied to the Party anymore, especially after she was so warmly embraced in 2009-2010. She doesn’t want to see the ineffective Strickland and his hand-picked Chairman control the Party when Rich Cordray would be such a better choice. She’s the responsible one, looking out for the interests of the Party in 2014. Redfern and Strickland are still stuck in a past they’ve largely created in their heads. 

  • Modern Esquire

    Brunner doesn’t like Ted because of Lee.  She suspected that Ted personally was involved in preventing people to donate to her Senate campaign, but she could never prove it, and Ted did little to actually help Lee.

    I’m sorry, but this isn’t about Cordray for Brunner.  And I really am incensed at the notiont of “getting rid of the garbage.”  It’s about grudges.

    Brunner is one to suddenly blast Kasich, though.  For months, she’s happily been willing to be Kasich’s poster child of bipartisanship.  She even attended his last State of the State address to get a shoutout from the Governor.

    I’ve yet to see anyone explain to me how this alternative to Redfern is a) better, or b) prepared to go from county party chairman to State party chair in the midst of this State being a presidential battleground.

    I’m sorry, but I think you give Brunner WAY too much credit.

  • Amazing post! i am so thankful to you! quite informative and interesting as well… appreciate your efforts!

  • Pilib

    Redfern should be the head of the party’s organizing structure. Not fronting for TED. Ohio needs a fresh face to run for Governor.  This Santorum philosophy of losers running just doesn’t work. Sides, I read on  this board that Redfern’s been blaming teachers for TED’s defeat! What a crock. Redfern had presided over a number of Democratic disasters. Maybe it’s time for a change.

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