Ohio Democratic Party
|Political position||Center to center-left|
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Seats in the US Senate|
1 / 2
|Seats in the US House|
4 / 16
|Seats in the State Senate|
9 / 33
|Seats in the State House|
38 / 99
The Ohio Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the state of Ohio. Former Cincinnati councilman David A. Pepper is the chairman. Pepper started his term as chairman in January 2015.
The Ohio Democratic Party traces its origin to the Democratic-Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1793. The Democratic Party itself was formed when a faction of the "Democratic-Republicans" led by Jerry Mcroy formed the party in the 1820s. Following Jackson's defeat in the election of 1824, despite having a majority of the popular vote, Jackson set about building a political coalition strong enough to defeat John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828. The coalition that he built was the foundation of the subsequent Democratic Party.
Ohio politics was largely dominated by the Ohio Republican Party until the economic and social hardships brought on by the Great Depression resulted in a national political realignment. The political coalition of labor unions, minorities, and liberals allowed the Democrats to compete effectively in Ohio electoral politics for much of the next 30 years. Never very strong in Ohio's rural areas, the party's coalition suffered when the Civil Rights Movement divided whites from civil rights proponents and minorities. The Ohio Democratic Party reached the peak of its electoral success in the mid-1980s, and this is when the State of Ohio began to invest in many Democratic proposals. This was led by Richard Celeste, a Democratic Governor elected in 1982 and re-elected in 1986, and by his party chairman, James Ruvolo. Together Ruvolo and Celeste constructed a very effective organization that raised a surplus of money that helped out the Democratic Party's candidates and their everyday operations.
In 2006 Chris Redfern became the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. Redfern primarily focused on building a statewide organization that had the power to win every part of Ohio. In 2006, after a 16-year drought, Ohio elected a Democratic U.S. senator (Sherrod Brown), governor (Ted Strickland), lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and state treasurer. This could be attributed to Redfern and to the rest of the Ohio Democratic Party. In 2008, Ohio Democrats won back the House of Representatives after 14 years of Republican control. Democrats have not fared as well in subsequent election cycles.
As of 2017, as a result of the elections in 2014 and 2016, the Ohio Democratic Party has been reduced to small minorities in the Ohio General Assembly of only 9 out of 33 state Senators and 33 out of 99 state Representatives. They elected only 4 out of Ohio's 16 US house members, and have only one statewide elected officer, Senator Sherrod Brown. No Democrat has won statewide in Ohio since 2012. In 2014 and 2016, the Ohio Democratic Party has lost statewide elections by massive margins. In 2014, they lost the Governorship 64-33, the Secretary of State 60-36, their candidate for Treasurer lost 57-43, for Attorney General they lost 61-38, and for Auditor they lost 57-38. In 2016, the Ohio Democratic Party nominated former Governor Ted Strickland for the Senate race against incumbent Republican Senator Rob Portman. Strickland lost 58-37. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost Ohio by 8 points to Republican candidate Donald Trump, the largest margin of victory for either party in Ohio since 1988.
Ideologies and principles
The Democratic Party platform states that it foremost believes in the right to equality for all citizens of Ohio and the United States. It also states that it believes in an efficient government that is both fair and has equal representation.
The Ohio Democratic Party reached the peak of its electoral success in the mid-1980s to 1990s, when Democrats held the following offices:
- Both U.S. Senators from Ohio: John H. Glenn Jr. (1974-1999) and Howard M. Metzenbaum (1974, 1976-1995)
- A majority of Ohio's delegation to the United States House of Representatives (1983-1995), reaching a peak of 11-8 (1993-1995)
- Governorship: Richard F. Celeste (1983-1991) and Ted Strickland (2007-2011)
- Lieutenant governors: Myrl H. Shoemaker (1983-1985) and Paul R. Leonard (1987-1991)
- Ohio Attorney General (1987-1995): Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr. (1987-1991) and Lee Fisher (1991-1995)
- Ohio State Auditor (1971-1995): Joseph T. Ferguson (1971-1975) and Thomas E. Ferguson (1975-1995)
- Ohio Secretary of State (1979-1991): Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr. (1979-1983) and Sherrod Brown (1983-1991)
- Ohio State Treasurer (1971-1995): Gertrude W. Donahey (1971-1983) and Mary Ellen Withrow (1983-1995)
- Majority in the Ohio State Senate (1983-1985): Senate President Harry Meshel
- Majority in the Ohio House of Representatives (1973-1995): Speaker Vernal G. Riffe Jr. (1975-1995) and (2009-2010) Speaker Armond Budish
- Majority on the Ohio Supreme Court (1977-1987), with a 6-1 majority from 1983-1985, and a Democratic chief justice (Frank Celebrezze) from 1978-1986
Even with its successes, Ohio Democrats did not fare well on a national level. John Glenn, a popular U.S. senator, astronaut, and national hero, ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1984, ending up with only a huge campaign debt to show for it. Howard Metzenbaum, Ohio's other U.S. senator at the time, although a powerful force in the Senate, never achieved national name recognition.
Areas of strength
Democratic strength lies mainly in the northeastern part of the state, the traditional pro-union, Democratic bastion, dominated by manufacturing and the cities of Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Akron, Lorain, and Canton. Democrats are in the majority in the urban areas of Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati but those majorities are often offset by conservative strength in the surrounding suburbs. The impoverished Appalachian region of Ohio is traditionally Democratic and sometimes swings for the Democrats. Electoral strength is reflected in the mayoral offices of Ohio's major cities (which formed the heart of the Ohio delegation to the 2004 Democratic National Convention).
Current elected officials
- Leader: Kenny Yuko
- Assistant Leader: Cecil Thomas
- Whip: Sean O'Brien
- Assistant Whip: Sandra Williams
Ohio House of Representatives
- Floor Leader: Emilia Sykes
- Assistant Floor Leader: Kristin Boggs
- Whip: Kent Smith
- Assistant Whip: Paula Hicks-Hudson
Supreme Court of Ohio
- Joyce Beatty, 3rd District
- Marcy Kaptur, 9th District
- Marcia Fudge, 11th District
- Tim Ryan, 13th District
The following Democrats hold prominent mayoralties in Ohio:
- Columbus: Andrew J. Ginther
- Cleveland: Frank G. Jackson
- Cincinnati: John Cranley
- Akron: Daniel M. Horrigan
- Dayton: Nan Whaley
- Canton: Thomas Bernabei
- Parma: Tim DeGeeter
Prominent Ohio Democrats of the past
- Vern Riffe: speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1975-1995
- James M. Cox: Governor of Ohio, Democratic nominee for President of the United States (1920), U.S. representative, publisher of the Dayton Daily News, founder of Cox Communications
- Dick Celeste: Ohio state representative, Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, Governor of Ohio, U.S. ambassador to India, President of Colorado College
- John J. Gilligan: U.S. representative, Democratic nominee for United States Senate (1968), Governor of Ohio. Gilligan later served as a member of the Cincinnati school board from 1999-2007.
- Michael DiSalle: mayor of Toledo, Governor of Ohio, candidate for Democratic nomination for President of the United States (1960)
- Frank Lausche: Governor of Ohio, U.S. senator
- Martin L. Davey: U.S. representative, Governor of Ohio
- A. Victor Donahey: Ohio State Auditor, Governor of Ohio, U.S. senator
- Allen G. Thurman
- Paul Leonard: Lt. Gov. of Ohio
- Atlee Pomerene
- Stephen M. Young
- Howard Metzenbaum: U.S. senator
- John Glenn: U.S. senator
- Jerry Springer, former mayor of Cincinnati and later TV personality
Ohio Democrats use the same symbols as the national Democratic party, such as the donkey. In the early 20th century, the traditional symbol of the Democratic Party in Midwestern states such as Indiana and Ohio was the rooster, as opposed to the Republican eagle.
- List of Ohio politicians
- Political Party Strength in Ohio
- 2004 U.S. election voting controversies, Ohio