Was Ohio Dem chair vindicated?

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern called in to the Louie Free radio talk show being broadcast from The Vindicator’s newsroom shortly after the national networks declared that President Obama had won re-election by virtue of carrying the Buckeye State.

That’s what political types do when they’re on the winning side — jump at any opportunity to pontificate about the outcome.

So late Tuesday night, Redfern was chatting with Free, who hosts a daily show, “Brainfood From the Heartland,” on WYCL 1540 AM (it is webcast on Vindy.com), and Todd Franko, the newspaper’s editor, when he took this writer’s name — in vain. In the midst of discussing Obama’s win in the battleground state of Ohio, the Democratic Party chairman had the following suggestion: This writer should tear up the column published in March 2011 calling on Redfern to resign.

The chairman should have been content to celebrate President Obama’s victory in Ohio, and to take a bow for the effort put forth by the state party to not only register voters, but to ensure that Democrats turned out in the election. The early voting stats show that Obama’s campaign, along with Redfern and the county chairmen, outflanked the Republicans.

Digging up the past

But because he couldn’t leave well enough alone Tuesday night and brought up the March 2011 column on the Louie Free show, he has dug up the past he would sooner forget.

The column, which ran March 13, was headlined “Time for state Dem chair to go.”

The gist of the column was that Redfern had presided over the humiliating defeat of the statewide Democratic ticket in the 2010 election. Republicans won every race, from governor on down.

It was a political whipping that reminded observers of the 1994 statewide elections when Democrats were sent packing. The chairman at the time was Harry Meshel, former long-time legislator from Youngstown. In the aftermath of that election, a Democratic politician from Ottawa County by the name of Chris Redfern (yes, the very same) demanded that Meshel resign as chairman.

Thus, on Jan. 30, 2011, two months after the Democratic drubbing, Meshel, who had served as president of the Senate during his political heyday, sent a note to Redfern, that said, “You failed miserably! You have earned the requirement to ‘take the pipe!’ Get lost.”

Redfern’s failure to put together an effective political strategy cost Gov. Ted Strickland a second term.

But that wasn’t all: With Republicans in control of the governor’s office, the other statewide offices and the Ohio General Assembly, the redrawing of congressional and state Senate and House districts based on the 2010 population census spelled major trouble for Democrats.

The GOP made no secret of the fact that fairness in drawing the district boundaries would not be a consideration. Republicans leaders’ adherence to the principle, “To the victor belongs the spoils,” can be seen in this year’s election.

Because Ohio’s population did not grow as much as some other large states, the number of congressional districts was reduced from 18 to 16.

And here’s Democratic Chairman Redfern’s cross to bear: Of the 16 districts, Republicans won in 12 on Tuesday. Democrats will represent four.

So, while Redfern is justifiably giddy over President Obama’s victory in Ohio, he also must take responsibility for the state’s congressional delegation being dominated by Republicans.

More bad news

But that isn’t the end of the bad news: The congressional districts will be in place until the next census in 2020, which means the delegation will be dominated by the GOP in the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections.

Thus, the question to Redfern: Do you have a political formula for taking back the governor’s office in 2014 when John Kasich will be seeking a second term, and winning the Ohio House and Senate?

Given the legislative districts created by the GOP, the chances of the Democrats doing what the Republicans did in 2010 are slim to none.

So, when Redfern suggests this writer rip up the column of March 13, 2011, the chances of that happening are as good as the chances of the Democratic Party dominating Ohio politics in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, that column stands.

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