Leading the Ohio Democratic Party, the No. 1 goal and responsibility of newly-elected Chair David Pepper and Vice-Chair Nina Turner will be to win elections.

This is what they told supporters in an email Friday afternoon outlining their vision for the party moving forward. The email began with a quote from Harriet Beecher Stow:

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never up up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

The new leadership team called this a defining moment in the history of the party, setting in motion the path for the future.

“We are humbled by and deeply grateful for the strong support we received in our quest to lead the party and we know how much work needs to be done to restore confidence, energize our infrastructure and win elections,” the two wrote in the joint email to ODP supporters.

They spoke of their history as candidates visiting every corner of the state, “from union halls in Parma and Rossford, churches in Dayton and Columbus, coffee shops in Akron, and VFW halls in Marietta — to the brick streets of Athens, picnic shelters in Hillsboro and Sandusky, the homes of supporters in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo — and so many other incredible places in between.”

The traveling they’ve done, and the listening they’ve done, serves as an inspiration and motivation for them to lift the party to the next level, they said.

“We must win local races in 2015. When the whole nation is counting on us and so much is at stake in the judiciary, there is no other option than to win big in 2016,” Pepper and Turner wrote. “We must use the momentum and energy from our successes in ’15 and ’16 to win in 2017 and 2018. Indeed, the true measure of our success will be in 2018.”

Their plan, they said, is to harness their own experience, and the collective experience and passion of all who want to be involved, to change, shape, and hone the ODP into a well-oiled machine that wins elections every year.

“But to be very clear: winning is not enough. How we lead as Democrats and what we do after we win are just as important,” they wrote. “Indeed, winning and then doing good reinforce one another.”

So beyond winning, the party must focus on solving real problems in the lives of real people, they said.

And beginning January 1, Pepper and Turner said they will systematically gather input from across the state about  ideas and suggestions to do that, as well as to move the party forward.

“We will use all of this input, as well as best practices from around the country, to develop a Blueprint to Victory by early next spring.”

As part of that blueprint, Pepper and Turner outlined five basic principles they said they believe should serve as the foundation of the Blueprint. “But be assured that many of the details and specific steps to execute these principles will be driven by your feedback,” they added.

Here are those five principles:

  1. FIGHTING FOR THINGS THAT MATTERIf we want Ohioans to show up on Election Day and vote for our candidates, they must know what we stand and fight for–and that what we fight for will make their lives better.

  2. ENERGIZING OUR INFRASTRUCTUREThe Party needs to touch voters where they are, and do so with passion — not just in the weeks prior to an election, but on an ongoing basis. This means firing up and empowering the entire Democratic infrastructure so it’s not simply a long list of names in a database, but an ACTIVE, WORKING infrastructure, fueled by passion and energy at every level of the Party.

  3. BUILDINGOUR FUTUREWe must always operate with our eye towards the future, both when it comes to recruiting and cultivating our bench of future candidates, and standing strongly against GOP tactics that most threaten our success long-term, such as gerrymandering and voter suppression.

  4. RAISING RESOURCES.The Party needs the resources to fuel all these efforts, and these resources must come from the bottom-up as much as the top-down. 

  5. ORGANIZATIONAL INTEGRITY.The Party must be a robust organization that lives by our values and is infused by energy, common purpose, high-integrity decision making, open communication, and transparency. 

“And absolutely essential in all this is the need to come together and work together going forward,” they said. “We are coming off a pretty rough cycle, but as Nina often says, there is promise in the problem.”

They ended their letter with a veritable call to arms, for Democrats to focus on the fundamental issues that give the party its strength of character, working to fight for real-world change:

“As long as there are people living in poverty and sickness while others get rich from tax breaks and loopholes, it’s our responsibility as Democrats to lift them up.

As long as there are voices drowned out by the self-interests and greed of those in power, it’s our responsibility as Democrats to make them heard.

As long as our children—from the foothills of Appalachia to the shores of Lake Erie —have their dreams deferred, it’s our responsibility as Democrats to tear down the barriers that hold them back.

And as long as our democracy has not yet fulfilled its potential—as long as the promise of a more perfect union remains alive—it’s our responsibility as Democrats to dare to dream of progress and to blaze the trail towards it.”

David DeWitt is a journalist and universal minister based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.

  • MKTG

    Bravo, Brava Pepper-Turner, you’ve nailed it. People did not get out to vote—candidates need to stand up to intense scrutiny since substantial funds are spent on negative ads and spin. Although Ohio has been gerrymandered and attempts are made to limit voter rights and venues, the primary problem is that people do not understand what Democrats represent–I heard someone on NPR comment that if people, top 5% or so aside, understood the party, they would all be Democrats. The media has successfully denigrated unions, attacked teachers, convinced small business owners that the GOP has their backs, used religion and gun control cards successfully, labeled public option health care as socialism, and dubbed government as “too big,” inept, and taking their money to be used as “goodies” for undeserving individuals. Essentially, people’s thinking is manipulated by wealthy individuals who use their resources for media influence and to elect those who will protect their interests. This is going to be a tough road, but I agree with Harriett Beecher Stowe.

  • john curry

    Dem leadership….please go on the offensive….we have spent too much of our past either being silent or running away from critical commentary from the other side. Stand up and verbally “duke it out” with the opposition. We need leaders that sound like Harry Truman and FDR….not like Charlie Chaplin.

  • dmoore2222

    Now let me see if I have this right. The ODP wants me to be “energized” by their two new top officials, Pepper and Turner, who both lost their elections this fall. And neither of them offered a clue as to why they think they lost. I think I deserve to hear both of them tell me why they think they lost before I’ll put any faith in them. Because I want to know that they get it. That they understand why so many democrats stayed away from the poles. That they didn’t have a compelling message or a winning strategy. That they didn’t use the energy of the grass roots anti-SB5 people. I’m not sure they have a clue as to what happened on November 4th. And the least they can do when rolling out their big new plan for success is to get the quote from Harriet Beecher Stow right: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till
    it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never up up
    then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” “… never up up then,…:? What kind of attention to detail is that? These people have a long way to go before they convince me they’re interested in anything other than their own careers. Maybe their main qualification is that they both have time on their hands now. I don’t see anything else that would make them good candidates to turn this moribund party around.

  • Mike Bock

    Ohio Democrats need bold leadership and we will soon find out if Pepper and Turner have the right stuff. They have promised to deliver their “Blueprint to Victory” in early spring. I will be reading that document carefully to see if it addresses the big changes needed in the ODP organization itself. If they fail to address the shocking accusations made by Sharen Neuhardt in her withdrawal letter, then it will be obvious they are not up to the challenge of leading.

    The ODP needs to be re-structured as an organization. There needs to be a new constitution written. The ODP is structured to be a “political boss” organization. In her letter Neuhardt claims that the Executive Committee — that according to its constitution is the governing body — had little or no impact on the actions of the ODP. Evidently it was all about Redfern and his confidants. But even if the Executive Committee had been fully engaged, in a larger sense it wouldn’t have mattered. The ODP is a tiny organization of only 148 voting members. Only 66 of these members are chosen through an election process where every Democrat can participate — a man and a women from each of the 33 senatorial districts — the rest are appointed.

    We need to remember what the only Democratic member of Ohio’s Supreme Court, William O’Neil, said about this group of 148: “As a matter of honor, all ‘appointed’, not elected, members of the ODP Executive Committee who approved the debacle known as candidate selection in 2012 need to quietly, politely, stand up and resign. Remember folks, is was the ‘appointed’ Executive Committee who ran my lawyer Jennifer Brunner off when she expressed an interest in running for Governor, and it was the Executive Committee who endorsed in my primary. They need to follow their leader out the door.”

    The biggest impediment to the success of the ODP is the structure of the ODP itself. The ODP needs to be transformed from a oligarchic structure to a democratic structure. The political boss system harkens back to a horse-and-buggy era when members from around the state had to make their way to Columbus in order to participate in the ODP Executive Committee. In this internet era, if the party chose to do so, all Ohio Democrats could be connected and voting members of the ODP.

    We will know is Pepper and Turner are serious about providing the leadership that Ohio Democrats need, if they use the “Blueprint to Victory” to outline a proposal for a transformational constitutional changes to the ODP organizational structure.

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