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Trump's Ohio Win, the New Resistance, and 2018

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On Friday, April 7th, we went to the City Club for a program titled "Trump's Ohio Win, the New Resistance, and 2018" which featured Mr. David Pepper, the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, as the speaker. In the spirit of fairness that has been consistently practiced by the City Club, Ms. Jane Timken, Chairperson of the Ohio Republican Party, is scheduled to speak in July, 2017 so that all sides will be heard. 

During his speech, Mr. Pepper  first of all contended that the democrats must change their attitude about the 2016 Presidential Election meaning they must stop blaming the loss on F.B.I. Director Comey last-minute investigation of democratic U.S. Presidential candidate/ former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's emails, Wikileaks, and Russian computer hacking on the loss because the election shouldn't have been so close that any of those things could have tipped it. 

Instead it must be faced up to that Secretary Clinton's message just wasn't resonating with voters who were ready for change and her organization is not what it could/should have been. Message wise it was said that then candidate, now President, Trump's statements about the economy were really hitting home and many believed them to be more "democratic" than those of Sec. Clinton. In terms of Ohio, Mr. Pepper reviewed the statistics and attributed the big reason for Secretary Clinton's loss was her inability to perform as well as she should have in the small rural southern counties of Ohio. It wasn't that she failed to win there but it was the size of the losses that hurt her; in 2012 President Obama lost them too but only 60% to 40% whereas Sec. Clinton lost them 73% to 27%. Moreover, it was very much the same scenario in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and even Florida.  

Having relayed the tough love bad news, Mr. Pepper took a more positive note as he explained that a review of history shows that the democrats are in a fine position to score significantly statewide in Ohio in 2018 when THEY can run as the party of change. For example, in 1980 former California Governor Ronald Reagan beat President Jimmy Carter worse in Ohio than Trump beat Clinton but two years later Ohio elected a democratic governor (Richard Celeste) and re-elected a democratic U.S. senator (Howard Metzenbaum). 

According to Mr. Pepper, factors that could weigh in in the democrats favor are the fact that Ohio is still struggling economically (compared to other states), our educational status has slipped from #5 in the country to #22, and the heroin crisis because funds for local drug treatment programs are severely limited due to the State of Ohio's budgetary policies.  

What's more important is that many people who were ambivalent about government/politics are eager to get involved now and Mr. Pepper wants to make use of their talents, the democratic party sees that more organizing at the neighborhood level is needed and focus groups (called "kitchen table" conversations) have been conducted and/or are being conducted in which people are queried about issues and matters that are important to them. 

Mr. Pepper also expressed optimism that the liberal/moderate/conservative factions of the democratic party see the need to work together and are starting to do so. He indicated that a positive sign is that after a bruising fight for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, the two leading candidates Mr. Tom Perez (the ultimate winner) and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison are working closely together now and Mr. Perez (who is seen as a moderate) plans a unity tour with the progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a U.S. Presidential candidate in 2016. 

During the Q and A, the issue of gerrymandering came up and Mr. Pepper had a lot to say about the damage/potential damage that it can cause when both parties take advantage of it as they have in the past. In fact, Mr. Pepper recently wrote a book titled "The People's House" which he described as "a political thriller" in which abusive gerrymandering plays an important role. He urged us all to volunteer to assist in gathering signatures in our communities to put a ballot initiative on an upcoming ballot to reform the process at the U.S. Congressional level in Ohio. From the City Club podium, he even gave us the contact information in order to do so. 

The crowd at the City Club on this day was smaller than usual perhaps due to the fact that Mr. Pepper's appearance was put together on relatively short notice. We believe that this worked to the program's advantage because Mr. Pepper was able to answer more questions and the intimacy of the gathering really contributed something. 

As for ourselves, this was not a day to talk about a specific subject like immigration although we queried Mr. Pepper about what has been taking place as of late and he replied that, as is the case with many issues, that President Trump's viewpoint is clearly a minority one and indicated that constructive immigration reform is an issue that certainly needs to be and will be addressed. 

During lunch, we shared a table with Mr. Sanjiv K. Kapur of "Jones Day" who has known Ms. Margaret W. Wong for many years. Before lunch, we enjoyed visiting with Ms. Lynnie Powell, Regional Political Director of the Ohio Democratic Party who told us that for 30 years she has been saving all Ms. Wong's holiday letters and just loves it that Ms. Wong is so involved with her family.  

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC