© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
To contact us with news tips, story ideas or other related information, e-mail newsstaff@ideastream.org.

Meet The Suburban Cleveland Mom Working To Flip Ohio Blue In 2020

Katie Paris, founder of Red, Wine and Blue [Facebook]
Katie Paris poses with a glass of wine, an apron, and duster on a lawn beside a Black Lives Matter and a Biden for president sign.

In 2016, white suburban women helped launch Donald Trump to presidential victory. The win jolted many Democratic suburban women into action.

Katie Paris, a Shaker Heights mother of two and the former CEO of a left-leaning media company, found clusters of like-minded women all over Ohio, even in Republican strongholds. She formed Red Wine and Blue to harness their power, flip Ohio Blue in 2020 and loosen the GOP’s grip on statewide races.

The “wine moms,” this year’s version of soccer moms and the hockey moms from previous elections, have been getting lots of national media attention – Red Wine and Blue was featured on an episode of The Daily and Paris joined ideastream’s Morning Edition Host Amy Eddings Friday for more details as Election Day draws nearer.

Why Red Wine and Blue?

You know, when women have an obstacle in our lives... I mean, you do this, right? You say, 'come on over' to your girlfriend, like, 'come on over, let's have a glass of wine, we will figure it out.' That's really what it represents. And also, I'm doing this because I care about my country, I care about our state. So, you know, 'Red Wine and Blue,' it's for the red, white and blue, but hey, while we're trying to save democracy, we can have a little fun along the way.

You can relax and have a drink, yeah. Tell me what a typical Red Wine and Blue organizational meeting is like.

Well, most things happen on Zoom these days, right? But I was originally inspired by all these local groups of women who have cropped up since the 2016 election. I kept hearing this story over and over again as I started to travel the state. And I thought it was incredible that all these women had these similar stories but didn't know about each other.

So, what we've tried to do is create a statewide network that, frankly, now it's national! We have over 200,000 women in our private Facebook Group that is bringing all of these kinds of women together. But we get together, we talk about the data that tells us how important the suburbs are going to be and why we as women need to step up and we use our voices on social media to influence one another. We create a lot of really fun content that is not your traditional fare in politics to try to engage more and more women. And we also have a friend-to-friend texting program. It's called relational organizing. And that's really what it sounds like. Relationships are paramount. You know, women, the power that we have in our communities, it's all in our smart phones. So it's about understanding that power, your voice and your ability to actually, really have quite an influence over others.

Black women have really been the backbone of the Democratic Party and have a long tradition of political organizing and get out-the-vote efforts. What has taken white women so long?

So, this is the core of my motivation for starting Red Wine and Blue. When I saw the data coming off of the 2018 election in Ohio that showed that African American turnout in Ohio in 2018 was actually the highest of anywhere in the Midwest. And then, meanwhile, you saw that suburban voters, particularly in the majority white suburban areas across the state, actually underperformed? That really hit me hard...

You should probably be reaching out to them [Black Democratic women]. Have you?

Oh, 100 percent! I mean, really even before I got started, reaching out to Black women leaders and saying -


Well, also, 'What do you think?' I know that I have blind spots.' You know? 'We have shared goals. And so, as I do this work, can you help hold me accountable? Because you've been here.' Yeah, so when these Black women leaders said to me, 'Katie, I can't go get those women. You've got to go get those women.' That just really stuck with me. 

Katie, the energy that you're seeing motivating Red Wine and Blue. Will it be there if Joe Biden wins the presidency?

There's been a lot of questions asked about that. And frankly, I was curious when I first started this, too. What would I find? But there is no question to me what the answer is now. These women are going to stay involved and it's very clear to me why, too. We have formed a sisterhood. This is genuine community. People come to us and come to each other locally because of shared concerns, that feeling that, just, something is wrong and they want to do something. But they stay for the sisterhood.

Expertise: Hosting live radio, writing and producing newscasts, Downtown Cleveland, reporting on abortion, fibersheds, New York City subway system, coffee