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Ohio Democratic Party To Select New Leader On Thursday

Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.
David Holm
Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio Democrats are set to pick their new party chair Thursday. Party insiders are starting to rally around two of their five choices.

Most of the attention is going to Antoinette Wilson, who ran Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner’s campaign last year, and Liz Walters, a former Ohio Democratic Party executive.

Walters has won support of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), labor unions. and others within the party.

Both Walters and Wilson participated in a Zoom call on Ohio's Democratic Party's Facebook page on Tuesday night to answer questions from members of the organization's executive committee.

Former Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper resigned at the end of last month, saying it was time for a new leader to take over the helm. Pepper had held that post for five years.

The new chair will have to figure out new strategies for winning in Ohio. With the exception of Brown himself, the party has not won a single, non-judicial statewide seat for more than a decade. In the most recent election, Ohio re-elected President Donald Trump with a larger margin than in 2016, and Republicans cemented an even larger supermajority in both chambers of the Ohio legislature.

University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven says the new chair will have two important roles: rallying the troops and overseeing the party itself.

“This is somebody who is going to be the head cheerleader but also the principal," Niven says. 

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus have urged the Democratic Party to make diversity a priority, but did not endorse a specific candidate.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.