By Greg Haas, Chair of the Franklin County Democratic Party
ELECTION DAY BRINGS MANY VICTORIES AND A FEW DEFEATS
We learn a lot from victory, but even more from our losses. We had disappointments we can learn from and you may be surprised by the number of victories we had to learn from as well!
In conjunction with the Local Elected & Active Democrats group, or “LEAD”, we put forth a major effort in the suburbs and the results were encouraging. The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, in particular, lost several races and officeholders, in some of Franklin County’s toughest areas for Democrats.
This month’s election resulted in some major disappointments as well. Frank Macke, Kristen McKinley and Gwen Callender would have made great judges, as they were clearly superior to their opponents!
However, the November General Election overall returns point to good signs for Democratic activists throughout Franklin County. Our defeats got most of the attention in the news media. But the simple truth is we won races at a very high rate - 76 percent. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Seventy-six percent of the candidates and ballot issues endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party won.
And what’s even more impressive: More than half of our victories came in traditionally Republican suburbs.
Voters are obviously extremely impressed with the leadership of Mayor Coleman, Council President Andy Ginther, City Attorney Rick Pfeiffer, and City Auditor Hugh Dorrian. It should be pointed out that Democrats on Columbus’ City Council swept into re-election. As for the Columbus School Board, well, all I can say is “And Then There Were None,” as the Republicans lost their last City of Columbus elective office! The bond issues passed by sound margins, proof that the voters of Columbus recognize what they have in their elected leadership. Therefore, in spite of our natural reflex, Democrats shouldn’t be pessimistic. We had far more victories than defeats. Here is a brief recap of the good news that has been largely underplayed:
28 of the 37 candidates and ballot issues endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party won. These victories were wide-ranging in addition to Columbus, Franklin County Democratic endorsed candidates won suburban city council members; suburban school board members; and township trustees.
Despite voters’ discontent with the Columbus schools, three Democratic endorsed candidates (one incumbent and two newcomers) won election to the city Board of Education.
All three of the Democratic endorsed candidates for the Westerville School Board won election by defeating three Tea Party reactionaries.
The two Democratic endorsed candidates for the South-Western City Board of Education, which includes Republican-leaning Grove City and neighboring townships, won election. In fact, one of our winning candidates – a newcomer - replaces a Tea Party Republican on the School Board.
Other Democratic-endorsed candidates won in Grandview Heights; Hamilton, Madison and Mifflin townships; and Boards of Education in Gahanna-Jefferson, Reynoldsburg, Whitehall, Worthington and Upper Arlington School Districts. Also, voters passed a school levy in Upper Arlington that we endorsed.
The lessons of this year – as well as the seven years since Ted Strickland’s election as governor - are simple: We Democrats shouldn’t get too optimistic when we win nor too pessimistic when we lose. Also, turning out our Democratic base is vital to winning elections.
While our base usually shows up at the polls in large numbers in presidential-election years, there is a drop-off in other years. This is especially true in off-off year election years like 2013 when there were no presidential candidates as well as no candidates for governor, or Columbus Mayor on the ballot.
Zach Manifold, a former Executive Director of the Franklin County Democratic Party and ex-member of the Franklin County Ohio Board of Elections, recently noted that our judicial candidates often lose in off-off year elections by as much as 30 percent. While they didn’t win, our judicial candidates did far better than that this year.
That’s why the Franklin County Democratic Party’s VOTE NOW! Early-voting and Get-Out-The-Vote programs are so important. Turning out our Democratic base and recruiting highly qualified candidates will be the main goals of the Franklin County Democratic Party in next year’s all-important statewide, county and local elections.
Several strong Democratic candidates for the 2014 elections in Franklin County have already lined up experienced campaign teams and are actively raising campaign money. They will need your help in 2014. So please, be generous with your time and money.
The key ingredients for candidate success in both the 2013 election and going forward is to start early, raise money, engage voters, and continue outreach. It works! Don’t rely too heavily on any one issue, but find broader messages.
And, most importantly, Get out the vote!