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Redfern To Stay On As ODP Chairman
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Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern keeps that position for another two years, after beating back a challenge from a Lorain County attorney.
But his toughest work may still lie ahead.
The Ohio Democratic Partyâ€™s organizational meeting stayed informal but relatively orderly, even during the biggest item on the agenda: the election of the chairman to a two-year term. Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory stood up and introduced one of the two candidates â€“ the current chair.
“I firmly believe that he is the right person to lead us to victory as we re-elect U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and President of the United States Barack Obama. Ladies and gentlemen, I place into nomination the name Christopher Redfern.”
Redfernâ€™s supporters tried to drown out with thunderous applause the smattering of boos from the backers of the other candidate, Lorain County Democratic Party chair Anthony Giardini.
In nominating Giardini, Andrea Norris of Barberton shouted her main reason for backing him â€“ her belief that he can bring together union members who are angry at Redfern.
“We canâ€™t afford to have a leader that doesnâ€™t have the support of the unions and voters that have so vocally spoke out against Mr. Redfern,” Norris said.
But if union members were angry, they didnâ€™t show it in the vote. Redfern won re-election handily, 51-10. Giardini says he hopes his supporters can get behind Redfern â€“ though he admits he still has concerns about the Redfernâ€™s strategy.
“I like Chris personally, so I donâ€™t â€“ itâ€™s not like I dislike him. I still disagree with the top-down approach, I still believe we need to build our party from the bottom up and thatâ€™s not going to change,” Giardini said.
Mike Kelly of Columbus is with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, which backed Giardini. He says the results of the election in 2010 â€“ which were disastrous for Democrats showed Redfern didnâ€™t properly spend more than $1 million dollars his union gave that year.
“And his egotistic and really flamboyant attitude is something we donâ€™t care for. He indifferent to labor.”
Redfern said after the vote that heâ€™s not bothered by such opinions, and that heâ€™s not going to apologize for being â€“ using his word â€“ brash.
“Iâ€™m at peace with who I am, Iâ€™m comfortable, as youâ€™ve come to know, in my own skin. Kasler: And you think the party is too? Redfern: I think the party is the strongest in the country.”
Redfern shook off concerns about how heâ€™ll handle serving as both the party chair and in his old Ohio House seat to which heâ€™s likely to be elected this fall. And he says while he didnâ€™t solicit anyone in elected office or in labor unions for support, his door is open.
“Weâ€™ll work hard to reach out to our friends in labor, whether they be affiliated in the private sector or those in the public sector.
“Weâ€™ll continue to push forward an agenda that reflects the membership and the membershipâ€™s wishes, and Iâ€™m confident that those who have a difference of opinion about the party or the partyâ€™s management will work together to elect and re-elect Democrats.”
Redfern also had harsh words for Republicans as they head into a meeting tomorrow, where Chairman Kevin DeWine says he will resign following the election of a new chairman, the result of a long struggle between DeWine with allies of Gov. John Kasich.
Making a reference to a comment Kasich made not long after his election as governor, Redfern said Kasich “drove the bus over DeWine” at the order of Columbus lobbyist Doug Preisse, the chair of the Franklin County Republican Party. And he claimed the battle within the GOP isnâ€™t about strategy, as it was with his re-election bid â€“ itâ€™s about access to money.