The Ohio Democratic Party has sent an e-mail which lists the folks who have declared their candidacy to replace Dennis White as the Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party.
The candidates are:
My thoughts on the flip.
Bill DeMora--Its unclear if Bill's still in the race. He was a long shot at best given his ties to the Leland-era.
Dennis Eckhart--Eckhart is a former Congressman and a partner in the Cleveland office of Baker & Hostetler. Eckhart hails from Cleveland, but spent some time in the southern part of the state in the early '70's while getting a degree at Xavier University. Eckhart has spent been chairman of National Center for Responsible Gaming, a group that does scientific research on pathological gambling. Eckhart's name was mentioned for governor at various point, among other offices, each time nothing has materialized. Perhaps this was the one he was really waiting for. But he may have difficulties since he's helped raise funds for Republican candidates in recent years.
David Giese--Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party. I don't know much about Giese other than the fact he was one of the few out there working to protect the right to vote for folks in his county back in 2004. Giese also appears to be a long shot.
Susan Gwinn--Her candidacy should come as no surprise to those who know her. Since becoming the Chair of the Athens Democratic Party in the late 1990's, Gwinn has had her eyes on bigger and better things. Her success as party chair has owed more to demographics than any great organizational skills on her part. She is currently in charge of the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association. The fact that Ted Strickland is backing another candidate for the job does not help her case.
Dennis Lieberman--Considered one of two frontrunners. Lieberman has been Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party since 1994. He benefits from coming from a part of the state the Democrats have not historically done well in--the Southwest. From what I can tell, though, Mr. Lieberman hasn't faired any better than the rest, with the exception of his wife's recent election the Board of County Commissioners. Still, Lieberman has a fair amount of support.
Jane Mitakides--Another longshot and another Southwestern Ohioan. Mitakides has been a successful businesswoman in the advertising field and recently ran for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District, receiving 37% of the vote, though she outperformed Kerry in portions of the District. She hails from Dayton. Her lack of experience even at the County Chair level hurts her.
Todd Portune--aka "Liberal" Portune. Portune was long the lone liberal on the Hamilton County Commission. And he repeatedly has earned his place on that Commission by fighting tough races. One of the most infamous races featured a repeated bombardment of TV commercials referring to him simply as "Liberal Portune". And somehow he still won in conservative Hamilton County. Probably in large part to the fact that he has built a reputation as a no-nonsense kind of guy. Portune is probably a longshot, but his ability to succeed in difficult territory makes him an interesting candidate.
Chris Redfern--The original rumors were that Ted Strickland wanted David Leland to return as chair and that had many folks worried given what happened last time Leland was in charge. But now the Strickland-supported candidate is House Minority Leader Chris Redfern. Redfern is from Catawba Island in northern Ohio. Redfern had his name bandied about for statewide offices, but decided against it. Given the unimpressive performance of Ohio House candidates, one has to question whether Redfern would offer much as Party chair or if we would be better to keep him where he does best--political office.
I'll be honest--none of them wows me. I suspect that in a few years we'll be discussing who will replace this person again. The word on the street is that this is a two horse race between Redfern and Lieberman. From what I can tell, that may not be good news.
I was amazed by the number of Southwest Ohio candidates and disappointed by the lack of Central Ohio candidates--DeMora is the only one you could technically call a Central Ohioan.
I'd be intersted in insight from folks who know these people on what your thoughts are.