Democratic Party Of Ohio-- Basically As Incompetent And Unsuccessful As The Florida Democratic Party
Earlier this morning I mentioned that the Florida Democratic Party is probably the worst and least successful of any big state's in the whole country. I'll stand by that. But... Ohio's state Democratic Party has been a mess for a very long time as well. Another one in shambles. This column from yesterday's Cleveland Plain Dealer was written by Brent Larkin, who was the paper's editorial director from 1991 until he retired in 2009. He knows what he's talking about.
The funeral of former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Paul Tipps was a turn-back-the-clock moment for a political party that has lost its way.I'm sure Ted Strickland is just as nice as any NRA-loving, conservative, corporate Dem can be. But Blue America was eager to endorse Sittenfeld and his cutting-edge progressive approach, very much the opposite of the tired, lazy politics of Strickland and Republican incumbent Rob Portman. If you'd like to help Sittenfeld win the seat-- and clean up the Ohio Democratic Party-- here's the page for you.
Tipps was the state party boss at the beginning of a decade-long run that might have been the 20th century's best for Ohio Democrats. In the 1982 and 1986 statewide elections, Democrats won all 10 contests for the state's five executive offices. Since then, they've lost 27 of 35, including 10 in a row.
Here's a statistic that might be even more stunning: In the 1970s and 1980s, Democrats won 81.5 percent of the contests for Ohio's executive offices. Since then, Republicans have won 77.8 percent.
So it was understandable that "remember the good old days" was a major theme in the three eulogies for the astute and personable former chairman at his April 24 funeral in Columbus.
Those eulogies came from the dominant Democratic leader during that decade of success, 77-year-old former Gov. Richard Celeste; from Jim Ruvolo, 66, who succeeded Tipps as chair in 1983; and from Gerald Austin, Ohio's most prominent political consultant of the period, who is 70.
One of that day's messages was: We knew how to win.
More subliminal was this one: Today's Democrats don't.
Generational comparisons are a risky business. But all things being equal, any political dispute that pits old versus young should be resolved in favor the latter.
Ohio Democrats should have thought long and hard about the wisdom of endorsing a 75-year-old freshman (Ted Strickland) for election to the seniority-conscious U.S. Senate next November. Attorney General Mike DeWine, who wants to be Ohio's next governor, would be a way-too-old 80 by the end of his second term.
Age became a relevant issue when Strickland's friends in organized labor rammed through a party endorsement of his Senate candidacy in next spring's Democratic primary against 30-year-old Cincinnati Councilman PG Sittenfeld.
And another food fight with age implications exploded into headlines across Ohio in late July when David Pepper, the Ohio Democratic Party's new state chair, somewhat gently-- but unwisely-- suggested that Sittenfeld's candidacy for statewide office distracted from the business of curing Cincinnati's rising crime rate.
Never mind that Pepper was an elected official from Cincinnati when he ran around Ohio for a year chasing, but failing to land, the job of state auditor. Pepper's remark about Sittenfeld was a minor, albeit unnecessary, mistake that received a huge amount of attention when Ruvolo ripped Pepper for attempting "to intimidate PG into leaving the race."
But there's a delicious irony in this latest outbreak of combative behavior within the party that fights more than it wins.
Many of the people who have figured out that Democrats made a gigantic mistake in endorsing Strickland come from the party's senior citizen wing.
It's the slightly younger ones-- especially those from the public-sector unions-- who once again seem intent on running the party into the ground.
Pepper deserves a chance to succeed. He works hard and has some specific ideas about how to rebuild a broken party.
The question is whether the labor leaders who have worked diligently at wrecking the state party for an astonishing 21 years will allow that to happen. Late last year, they even had the audacity to twice embarrass their best friend, Sen. Sherrod Brown, by rejecting out-of-hand Brown's candidates to succeed Chris Redfern as party chairman.
Labor leaders who aggressively attempt to humiliate a United States senator with a pro-labor voting record somewhere north of 99 percent are not good Democrats. They're self-dealing bullies.
"Pepper doesn't understand he's a gopher," said Austin. "They [labor leaders] control him. He doesn't have any power."
Christopher Celeste is the former governor's 50-year-old son, a successful Columbus and Cleveland entrepreneur who has seen his political party destroyed from within.
In a July email to friends that generated considerable Internet traffic, Celeste wrote, in part, "Forty-plus years ago Celestials were young troublemakers. They spoke of the future, not the past. They didn't wait their turn, or do what they... Being young isn't enough, for sure-- but being young and having the right values and an actual stake in the future you are building is very, very different than thinking your 'experience' entitles you to elected office.
"The world is changing-- and as always-- it isn't the old guard that brings the new ideas to the table."
Some rewriters of history argue that the voters' rejection of Senate Bill 5 in 2011 was one of labor and the Democrats' greatest victories. But that specious claim ignores that Senate Bill 5 would never have become law in the first place if Democrats had done a better job of electing legislators.
In fact, the Ohio Democratic Party has yet to endorse the redistricting reform issue on the November ballot-- an issue every voting Democratic member of the Ohio General Assembly supported.
Rejecting a similar reform plan in 2010 was arguably the worst political blunder Ohio Democrats have ever made-- and they've made a lot of them.
But some labor leaders are back for more, privately arguing Democrats should oppose the ballot issue.
Just when you think they can't get any dumber.