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Walters lines up key backers

Seeks to be Ohio Democratic chairwoman

Liz Walters, Summit County Council president, lined up key supporters, including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, in her bid to become the next Ohio Democratic Party leader.

Walters, a former state party executive and political director, has enough votes to be elected chairwoman when the executive committee votes Thursday, according to numerous party sources.

Brown, D-Ohio, the highest elected Democrat in the state, the Ohio Young Democrats and the Ohio Young Black Democrats all publicly endorsed Walters on Tuesday.

Brown said: “Liz Walters has spent her life serving our state and fighting for the dignity of work. She understands the challenges facing our state and has laid out a comprehensive vision that will allow our party to compete in every community in Ohio, field strong candidates up and down the ballot and show working families in Ohio that Democrats are on their side. Liz’s depth of experience as well as her commitment to justice and her ability to deliver results make her the best person to serve as the next chair of the Ohio Democratic Party.”

Four other candidates are seeking the position with Antoniette Wilson, a Columbus political consultant, considered the most viable besides Walters.

Four of the candidates, including Walters and Wilson, returned questionnaires sent by the Ohio Young Democrats. The membership voted in a poll on its preference with Walters receiving nearly 60 percent of the vote, according to Chris Anderson of Boardman, Ohio Young Democrats president.

“She understands that winning in Ohio requires organizing in every corner and ensuring everyone is at the table,” Anderson said of Walters, who served as an OYD leader. “On Thursday, I will proudly cast the Ohio Young Democrats vote for Liz and look forward to working with her as the next chair of the Ohio Democratic Party.”

The position is available because David Pepper, chairman for five years, resigned Jan. 1. The term expires in mid-2022.

Rhine McLin, the party’s vice chairwoman and a former Dayton mayor, has served on an acting basis as the party’s head and will do so until Thursday’s vote.

The Ohio Young Black Democrats endorsed Walters, but insisted she select a black vice chair and / or executive director to serve throughout her tenure.

The group said Walters “brings a level of proven experience, expertise and knowledge of the need to invest in, engage and uplift black voices within the Democratic Party.”

But the group added that it needed “to speak out against the closed-door conversations in this process that have excluded Ohio’s black Democratic leaders.”

In a statement Thursday, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus expressed frustration with the party, contending that a new chair was being elected without their input.

“The time of the backroom party picks is over,” the letter reads. “We must select a leader who knows our relevance, values our input and recruits and supports our members.”

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