The Ohio Honest Elections Campaign called for a series of regional town hall meetings featuring candidates for state Democratic Chair to engage ordinary Democrats and others interested in restoring democracy to the state of Ohio.  Mayor of Dayton and Democratic Vice-Chair Rhine McLin, succeeding to Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party upon Denny White’s resignation, set up a process for candidacy notice, resumes, questionnaires and oral interplay on December 19, 2005, the date she scheduled the State Central Committee  meeting for the election of a new chairperson. She expressed openness to a candidate forums within that time frame.

Others have proposed that the Party owes it to Ted Strickland, currently the only declared Democratic candidate for Governor, to select the candidate he has endorsed for State Chair-- State Representative and House Minority leader  Chris Redfern.

The question of whether Redfern deserves the job on the merits was forcefully raised by Dispatch political editor Joe Hallett and Plain Dealer columnist Brent Larkin. The job is too important to be handled by anyone on a part-time basis, in their view, because of the present opportunity to restore two-party competition in Ohio and the nation due to Ohio’s importance to the national electoral map.

At the town hall forum hosted by Ohio Honest Elections Campaign and the Ohio Voter Fund on December 13, 2005, Redfern asserted he was committed to doing the job 24/7.  However, in his view, his job as a State Representative was not inconsistent with the job of being state party chair. 

Dennis Lieberman asserted a passion for the job and committed to giving up both his Montgomery County chairmanship and his law practice, so as to serve as a full time state chair.  Susan Gwinn chair of both the Democratic Party County Chairs and the Athens County Democratic Party, Cincinnati businessman Steven Reece, and former candidate for Congress Jane Mitakides also appeared willing to commit to the job as full time.

Hallett reported that a coalition of Democrats, led by former Cleveland Congressman Dennis Eckert and Stephanie Tubbs Jones with their endorsement of Lieberman, was trying to challenge Strickland’s pick and the control of the party by certain labor union leaders.  That was immediately followed by an endorsement by the UAW, the union with the largest membership in Ohio 175,000, of Paul Hackett as their pick for the Democratic Party primary for the U.S. Senate. Strickland had previously disclosed that he had asked Sherrod Brown to run for the Senate.    In addition, the UAW announced that it was urging Marcy Kaptur to join the race for Governor.  In a December 17, 2005 article, by David Hammer of AP, Mahaffey was clearly signaling other Democratic leaders that they had better start thinking democratically, that is with a view to the November election, rather than focusing upon locking up positions within the Democratic Party in its May primary.

Lloyd Mahaffey’s explanation for UAW members’ support for Hackett for US Senate was not  opposition to or disagreement with Sherrod Brown on any issue, but rather, Hackett’s apparent broad appeal and ability to win in the November 2006 election.  Mahaffey’s concept of democracy is as a discipline that is subordinate to all the people of  Ohio–not just those inside the Democratic Party.  In the same vein Mahaffey urged consideration of Marcy Kaptur as a candidate for Governor. The implications of this broad movement for the Democratic Party to be more democratic may be quite profound.  If it is successful the Democratic Party could win more elections.

Such Democratic success may prompt the Republican Party to become more republican again, instead of the captive of insiders within a corrupt “pay to play” system.