Ohio Democratic Party Selects David Pepper as Next Chairman

It wasn’t a surprise. David Pepper received unanimous backing from executive committee members for the top spot in the Ohio Democratic Party.

Pepper said he thinks the party needs to define more clearly its core message of supporting working Ohioans.

“People are frustrated," Pepper said. "There are jobs coming back, but wages have been stagnant for decades. And I think they want to see people fighting so that people aren’t working twice as hard for the same or less amount. I think Democrats have to be very clearly for that from day one. And long before they're candidates, we've got to make that our agenda, we've got to fight for it at every level we are in control. And if we're not, we need to keep talking about it. So it’s that kind of issue that Ohioans remain frustrated by, and this is something I think the party should be leading on.”

Pepper says he wants to bring the party together. And he’s enlisted the help of a state senator from Cleveland. Nina Turner, who ran for secretary of state this year and lost, says she is looking forward to being a key part of the new Democratic leadership in Ohio.

“Pepper and I have been forging a partnership all along, and we are going to keep that going," Turner said. "And to build and grow together, to lead this party together, is the best thing. It will strengthen this party. We are going to build on the successes that this party has had so team Pepper-Turner is in full effect.”

Turner has not been named to a position yet, but Pepper said he wants her to serve as a vice chair. He said the party needs to bring together all of its constituencies in the future to be successful. And he said that shouldn’t just happen at election time.

“We have all of these positions -- precinct committee members and all these other positions -- and too often those are positions that are on paper, or people come to a meeting and vote," he said. "But in the old days, all those jobs used to actually work the precinct. They'd get to know their neighbors. They'd talk to them long before the campaign started, so when they called later, people knew who they were. And what we're going to do is try and activate that again, so we have a working infrastructure. Now we win in the presidential years because there's some natural excitement. But that infrastructure is very important. If it is working well in the non-presidential years, that’s how you'll build your stable results as opposed to what we are seeing where you have a falloff.

Ohio Republican Party Spokesman Chris Schrimpf issued a statement shortly after Pepper’s election, saying as long as Ohio Democrats continue to push for bigger government, more spending, and higher taxes, it doesn’t matter who their chairman is. And Schrimpf also said Ohioans know they can trust Republicans to focus on the issues that matter, like job creation, better education and lower taxes.

Outgoing Democratic chair Chris Redfern, who announced his resignation on election night, will stay in that post until the end of this year. Redfern lost his seat in the Ohio House, and said he plans to make a total career switch -- he’s the new owner of the Red Fern Inn and Rocky Point Winery in Catawba.

But he didn’t rule out a return to politics at some point, possibly as early as 2016, since he’s a strong supporter of likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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