Inside Baseball at the Ohio DNC Candidate Forum

This story has nothing to do with baseball. It has everything to do with inner circle politics of the Ohio Democratic party.

Since the DNC, a close friend, one who served on the Credentials Committee, and I have been working on keeping progressive folks in Ohio engaged and involved in politics. We started The Ohio Revolution in the hopes of doing just that. We took up causes like the auction of Wayne National Forest and promoted progressive candidates who were running for State House. We have been happy to work along side the Ohio Democratic Party on some issues, but we haven’t been afraid to take them to task when they’re wrong. This relationship has been a good one. We really enjoy having some friends on the inside and found that a lot of people near the top share our progressive values. They keep us in the loop and include us in everything we ask of them. So, when we heard Keith Ellison was coming to Columbus to take part in the forum, we asked to meet with Keith.

The forum was on December 10, and I was scheduled to work. I ended up taking someone’s New Years Eve shift to get them to work for me on short notice. Sacrificing the ever-important Ohio State football game was a small price to pay to meet Keith Ellison. Our talented in-house graphics person whipped up a design for us.

Stickers were printed and buttons were made, all by volunteers, and we were ready to go.

We got invited to the “clutch” shortly before the forum, clutch being a fancy person’s word for a small meeting. We got word Keith’s plane was late getting in, so he wouldn’t be in the room. Disappointing for sure, but if I had $27 dollars for every time a meeting like this fell through, I’d use words like clutch. We went anyways and I saw a couple familiar Ohio Dems that I knew their faces but not their names and a couple folks I didn’t recognize. We started telling people about what we wanted to do in Ohio. The unfamiliar folks were really interested in our ideas. These people turned out to be Jaime Harrison and Michael Blake, candidates for the Chair and Vice Chair of the DNC.

The other couple of Ohio Revolution leaders were upstairs in the bar. We had scheduled a pre-meeting to make sure people got a sticker/button. The clutch dissolved as the program started, and we noticed we had about thirty people who came to show their support. We got to meet Keith finally and got a couple photos.

He did well with explaining his plan for our party, and he got noticeably more cheers and applause than other candidates. Of course, it helped that we were almost half the room.

Now that you have the backstory, on to the “baseball” of this article.

In all likelihood, Keith Ellison will be the next DNC chair. This is great for Shirley Chisholm-Bernie Sanders Democrats, as Nina Turner put it. It also poses an interesting problem.

Who is really buying into Keith’s plan? Who is paying lip-service to the probable power holder?

We saw a lot of people who shut us out of the party over the last year and a half nodding their head when Keith talks about bringing the party back to the grassroots. People who accused local progressive grassroots organizers of working for the Republicans stood in line to meet Keith.

The party needs to go in a new direction. Keith said it, Bernie said it, and I’m saying it. We will see in the next couple months how willing they are to new ideas and candidates. In order to turn this state around, we will have to re-think how we chose candidates. If the party resists and throws its resources into tilting scales, then we will see which side of the bread is buttered.