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Fireworks When the Democratic and Republican Leaders Face Off

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The leaders of Ohio’s two major political parties are preparing for a fight this fall. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports that was evident when the head of the Ohio Republican and Democratic Parties faced off at a media event.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

There are usually fireworks when Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges and Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern face reporters. And that was the case when the two squared off against each other at the Associated Press’s Legislative conference.

"It strikes me how aggressive the chairman is and others in his party, especially when the candidate happens to be a woman," Redfern said.

"Oh stop it," Borges replied.

Redfern hammered on Borges over women’s issues including laws restricting money for birth control through Planned Parenthood and the lack of the Republican party’s support for equal pay for women. Borges punched right back.

"This notion that we don’t support female candidates is absurd and it’s wrong and don’t buy it, don't buy into it and leave it alone," Borges said. "The truth of the matter is that job growth is up in this state. When Chairman Redfern went on the now somewhat infamous appearance that we did on Karen Kasler’s program and sat across the table from me and said, 'Unemployment has not changed since 2010,' he was lying. That was not the truth. Unemployment has dropped almost three points since then. And that’s the record that we are going to be proud to be able to run on."

Of course, Redfern said Republicans are the ones who have the numbers wrong.

"We are number 45 in the country in new job growth and the speaker of this house, the president of this house, the chairman of this party, the governor of this party can dismiss it out of hand but the numbers don’t lie," Redfern said. "One thousand Ohioans out of work at Ormet, and this governor didn’t even pick up the phone and call the CEO."

Redfern said Republicans are trying to lay low right now on certain issues in order to get re-elected. Take the anti-labor issue, Right to Work, for example. Kasich had said earlier in the day that it wasn’t on his agenda. Redfern accused Kasich of taking a page out of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s playbook, pointing out the Governor up north said the same exact words, only to enact the controversial labor law once he was put in office.

"Make no mistake, if John Kasich is re-elected -- and I have my doubts -- but if he were reelected, right to work will pass in the state of Ohio," Redfern said.

"When Republican leadership tells you it’s not on their agenda, it’s not because of any nefarious attempt to dodge an issue," Borges said. "It’s because it’s not on their agenda."

Borges said Republican Gov. John Kasich is poised to win re-election, noting that he had $4 million in his campaign war chest at the end of his last election campaign. Borges said the fact is Kasich has improved Ohio’s economy to the point that he’s being heralded nationally as a strong leader.

"When voters are asked who they give credit for...93 percent of them give credit for turning the economy around to John Kasich," Borges said. "And so it certainly is a reflection on what the real world looks at in terms of how John Kasich has done and how strong he is in terms of his potential plans for running for president."

When Borges was asked whether he’s talked to Kasich about those plans, the chairman said he hadn’t personally and the party hadn’t either.

"I know that no one in our building is looking anywhere beyond 2014," Borges said.

Borges said the party is going to get through the election and see where life leads after that.

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