Sunday, July 16, 2006

Redfern in Lakewood

As announced, I made it to a program Thursday night in Lakewood sponsored by the Campaign for a New Ohio. I had my usual kid chaos and got a late break. That plus looking for parking got me in the door about 20 after. At the podium was Paul Marnacheck [right], who works for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign in Cuyahoga County.

Marnacheck is running through the logistics of the Coordinated Campaign. Three locations: Currently Shaker Heights and Parma are open now, Lakewood coming soon. They are phonebanking now from the two open locations and getting canvasses together.

After Marnacheck, Gary Pritts [photo didn't come out], co-chair of CNO gets up and asks that we go around the room and introduce ourselves. This part tickles me because it is so Cuyahoga County. Two people are from the East Side and both make a big deal of being there. I let people know I’m from Akron, that I work with SCPD and that I’m a blogger.

Next we hear from Jane Buder Shapiro. She is a CNO Board Member and founder of Ohioans for Democratic Values, a grassroots organization. She mentions that she also works with a Dems framing group that is open to volunteers. They meet in Shaker Heights.

Mostly she’s here to talk about the Voter Action Initiative. This initiative attempts to build a power base of Democrats who want to be involved and get better educated and energized.

The idea is to get people to talk to neighbors and friends. Identify yourself, tell people you are a contact for info on Dem candidates. Maybe host house parties. For most people this is how they get their information about issues and candidates.

At its best, people will sign up to walk their neighborhood. Some are uncomfortable knocking on doors. You can drop off a letter. Or you can just walk your block list. Or you can just send out info to friends.

Don’t want this to disappear after election is over. Building a power base of committed Democratic voters means starting in 2006, keep it going in 2007 to be ready in 2008. Not necessarily a 2 year commitment. Just think about this year.

ODV doesn’t have a website, but their email address is all over there lit: ohio4demvalues[at]gmail[dot]com

Then Chris Redfern takes the stage.

He immediately asks I blog for. He seems satisfied with the answer.

He speaks briefly before opening for questions:

It’s great to be in Ohio and a Democrat
Been a long time. I’ve been involved
Best slate in a generation. Right on the issues. And we think wer’e going to win afew of these.

It’s great to be up in the polls, but it’s bad to be up in the polls. We can’t just see Strickland up 12 point sand sit back. Need to get out there.

We’re going to change ohio and change the country.

So what are you going to do? People ask, Chris what are you going to do? What are we going to do?

On Nov. 8 we can gather not just as dems. We can talk about the issues that matter most. Need to get out tomorrow. No seat, no matter how obscure should go uncontested.

Rather than give a speech, I’ll take questions

Q: I get people saying Blackwell will just steal the election again? What are we doing? And what are we doing about Blackwell abdicating responsibility to educate voters about the voter ID law?

88 counties each have BOE run by 2 Dems and 2 Rs. All Dems need to know what their jobs are.

ODP has identified lawyers in all 88 counties. An attorney on retainer or a volunteer in each county. ODP is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in training for poll workers.

I don’t think Ken Blackwell’s going to steal the election. I don’t think he’ll try.

Q: What makes you so confident?

A: I’m not confident. [laughter] there will be a kind of attention on Ohio this time unlike any time before.

We can't just dwell on 2004. RFK reporting doesn't mean now we won. We will win the election by talking to voters. If we just raise our performance by 1% in underperforming counties we win.

Q: Guy I’m most worried about is Karl Rove. Rove’s style is always the same – smear and steal.

A: The hate and divisiveness will dwarf the Kerry campaign. The difference between Strickland and Kerry is that Strickland is disciplined. This election will be won or lost in places like Stuebenville. Be on the offensive, go at them. Today in Western Ohio Strickland is spending $20,000 in Christian radio stations. Talks about being an ordained minister. Put Ken on defensive on issues of faith. That will continue to be our strategy. Ted won’t nuance his positions on abortion or gay marriage. He will continue to talk about issues that matter.

Q: Guy from Cleve Hts has a bunch of Qs from his group. Read them off to quickly to get them down. Redfern finds a thread and answers that.

A: After July 17 will have Dem HQ in Lakewood. Currently we’re in Shaker and Parma. Got HQs across the state opened now or We run out of Strickland literature, but Ben Espy has the same beliefs as Ted and we never run out of Espy for S.Ct. lit.

Don't forget July 29, Democratic Reunion Day.

Q: I ask about the Dems platform on education.

A: There is no Dem platform. Ted Strickland drives the issue. Turnaround agenda. His message is investment in higher ed and pre-K. The big question is how do we get that out – this stuff, without getting bogged down in arguments with Republicans who won’t vote for us anyway.

Q: I’m a pro-business Democrat. Begging people to put energy in suburbs. Outer ring of Cuy Co. You’re so worried about the rural areas, you are forgetting places like Mayfield Hts.

A: I’ve been to Jackson, Georgetown – hard hit areas.

I think low taxes create jobs. That’s why I’ve advocated the highest tax cut in history. And we have to stop talking about taxes being bad. They are an investment. There’s a balance. We have to keep pushing back.

Q: A lot of us would like Strickland offices to also be Sherrod Brown offices

A: Tricky because of McCain Feingold. Brown campaign is doing a good job all over Ohio.

Q: Health care issue. (announcement for a Single Payer Action Network event.) Where is Ted & state party on SPAN.

A: Ask Ted. I Don’t know. He’s in favor of affording it to everyone. As is Brown. That’s Browns’ thing – health care and blue collar jobs. It’s going to exec committee to decide if they will endorse. RON was never brought before party. Dem party will decide on the min wage issue next month.

Comment that’s it’s a new day for the Dem party thanks to Chris’s leadership.

Q: Debate schedule?

A: Party chairs won’t participate in debates by agreement of the campaigns.

Q: What can I do to help with House races?

A: Each can participate in the party by participating in a caucus. Expectations for caucus. LGBT Caucus is focusing on how to get LGBT to polls. Identifying precincts with high LGBT populations.

Also Dems are working on identifying lower-level elected officials and helping them. It’s as common for me to write a $500 contribution for a county commissioner candidate in Washington County as a $5000 contribution to Strickland.

For example, the party is trying to defeat Larry Householder for Perry County Auditor because if we nip him in the bud now he won’t come back.

Q: Concern about Cuyahoga County party leadership.

A: I take no position. If you have an issue, you need to run for precinct chair.

Q: How much are you working with Dems in Republican Counties. Specifically mentions Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune.

A: Easiest question to answer. Meets with Todd regularly. We look for people like that all the time. Example, Tim Horton running for Common Pleas Judge in Franklin County. ODP has given him a couple thousand so far. Working hard for him because he’d make an excellent judge, but also because he’s someone who could be a statewide leader someday.

[at this point the answer starts to wander and I stop taking notes except for this bit]

Great news about Barbara Sykes – she’s up 19 points in the latest poll.

Impressions: I’m leaning toward believing that Redfern is the guy he says he is. It’s been a long road for me because of the 800-pound-gorilla way he got elected. But this is the third time I’ve seen him speak and he’s sounding the same themes – grassroots involvement, compete in all 88 counties, get organized.

All in all the event was more October energy – even more impressive to see it sustained from the May dinner. It also sounds like the Dems have their act together in a way they haven’t in years.


Jill said...

Thanks as always, Scott, especially I know how hard it can be to arrange to get there and be there and stay there.

CindyZawadzki said...

Thanks for attending and writing this for us. It is interesting to see what questions the crowd asks - which ones get repeated over and over at each event (Rove) and which ones are new (ignoring the suburbs).

Anonymous said...

18 points? I don't suppose he dropped the source of that poll, did he?

Ohio 2nd said...

Very interesting post.

I found this site for Campaign for a New Ohio.

Anonymous said...

I think Chris has a lot of energy and he talks a good game but I want to see some results. If he gets results in November, he's ok by me. However, he is, to use his own word, a little "flip" and you DID notice he never answered my question about whether the Democratic Party was planning to do anything to educate voters about the new ID rules since Blackwell had indicated he plans to drag his feet. I think this is important. I agree with Chris that Blackwell probably isn't going to or going to be able to "steal" the election after the fact this itme (especially if we all keep working to increase Strickland's margin of victory, hint hint). But I think he IS going to focus on suppressing the turnout and making it as difficult, complicated and time-consuming for people to vote as possible. Blackwell has no interest in having people knowledgable about the new ID rules. I'm thinking the population with the worst problem will be the elderly who've been voting the same way for 40 or 50 years and will show up at the polls without what they need. I easily might not bring an ID if I didn't know about this.