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State Party Chairs Square Off - Separately - Over Upcoming Election

Oct 16, 2014

Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges (L) and Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern at a recent event.
Credit wksu.org

With the election a little over two weeks away, the two major political parties are working to get out their messages and their voters.

Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler talked with the leaders of the two parties, though not at the same time. And even though they weren’t together, there were some tough words exchanged. 

The chairmen were invited to sit down together – as they did last year…   But Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern declined a joint appearance, saying that since most of the Republican candidates for statewide office wouldn’t debate, he wouldn’t either. But Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges said Democratic candidates have been lying about their Republican opponents, and that gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald hasn’t come clean about controversies in his campaign, including not having a valid driver’s license for a decade. 

“This is the level of candidate that the Democrats want to put up - then they shouldn’t expect to have John Kasich stand on stage and waste Ohioans’ time letting the Democrats make a mockery of the process.”

Redfern didn’t say much about FitzGerald but did defend Democrats’ positions on key issues, and said Kasich isn’t debating because he’s kept away from questioning. 
“We’re the seventh largest state in the union – you have a governor treating the press corps, treating the public as if they just don’t matter. You know who matters to John Kasich? People in Dubuque. People in Des Moines. People in Iowa. People in New Hampshire. Because his sights are set on running for president, make no mistake about that.”

Redfern maintains that if Democratic voters can be mobilized, his candidates will win – but admits that history has shown that non-presidential years are tough for Democrats, and that they knew that going into this campaign. But Redfern said it would be a mistake to assume the future is grim for Ohio Democrats. 
Redfern: “Connie Pillich will win her treasurer’s race. John Carney will win. David Pepper will win. Nina Turner will win. We’ll have candidates up and down the ballot who can run for higher office if they choose. We also have – ” 
Kasler: “I notice you didn’t say Ed FitzGerald.” 
Redfern: “We also have candidates like Betty Sutton. Would you like me to go through the list?”

For his part, Borges said he’s not taking anything for granted, but admitted that the possibility of big wins – including a record number of Republicans in the Ohio House – is something he’s thought about. 
“I’ve certainly felt worse about things two and a half weeks out from an election in cycles past. I’ve also been in situations where you just candidly didn’t know how things were going to go. This is one of those years where we’re going to try to see how high we can climb.”

Both chairmen claim that more Ohioans support their issues – Redfern cited the rejection of Senate Bill 5 in 2011 and the re-election of President Obama and US Senator Sherrod Brown in 2012 as evidence, which Borges pointed to the broad support that polls have shown for Republican candidates.