Friday, September 10, 2010

Chris Redfern: It's much too early to give up

CHRIS REDFERN, the Ohio Democratic chairman, came to the Akron Press Club Thursday to push a big boulder uphill and keep it from rolling back against a troubling sense of defeatism within the party.

At this point, the polls are telling a different story than what Redfern offered in his speech, but he conceded nothing for the November election. He talked of registration that gives the D's a huge advantage over Republicans in Ohio - 2.5 million to 1.4 million -and insisted that his party's biggest task now is to use that advantage to the benefit of the Democratic ticket by getting these voters to the polls.

Democratic hopes lie in the early absentee voting that begins on Sept. 28. Redfern predicted that half of Ohio's voters will have cast their ballots before Election Day. Meantime, nothing is being left to chance. Redfern noted the party now has 27,900 volunteers and a full-time staff of 300 working on assuring a successful outcome for the Nov. 2 election. The party also has planned a statewide bus tour next week to spark voter interest.

Redfern has been credited with being a nuts-and-bolts party leader who has been concentrating on a statewide precinct- by- precinct effort since assuming the reins in 2005. Some of that work contributed to President Obama's victory in Ohio in 2008. His emphasis on the tiniest details of campaign structure has also led to solid fund-raising, the fuel that puts political engines in forward gear. The party's treasury is said to be in good condition for the final weeks of 2010 contests.

His audience in the Martin Center included former longtime GOP state chairman Robert Bennett, who was at the Bliss Institute, which co-sponsored Redfern's speech, to speak to a class. Bennett sat courteously at Redfern's table and exchanged quips with Redfern. When the Democratic chairman acknowledged him in his opening remarks, Bennett replied: "I'm here to learn."

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