Thursday, December 18, 2014

David Pepper elected new chairman of Ohio Democrat Party as the 2016 presidential election nears and Ohio remains a pivotal state, By Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news

Newly elected Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper
By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News.Com, and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper and newspaper blog. Tel: (216) 659-0473. Kathy Wray Coleman is a community activist, educator and 21-year investigative journalist who trained at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio for 17 years. ( / (

COLUMBUS, Ohio-As the 2016 presidential election nears and Ohio remains a pivotal state, David Pepper was elected chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party on Tuesday by the party's executive committee, replacing Chris Redfern, who quit election night following a Republican sweep of statewide offices, including governor, auditor, treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general.

The Republicans also control both lawmaking chambers of the Ohio General Assembly, namely the Ohio Senate, and the Ohio House of Representatives. And they represent the majority on the seven-member Ohio Supreme Court, Republicans justices Sharon Kennedy and Judi French both retaining their seats in November of the two high court seats up for grabs this year. 

A state representative until January who also lost his state legislative seat election night, Redfern was paid a base annual salary of $104,000 for party chair.

The likable Pepper, 42, will officially take charge of the state Democratic party in January. He ran unsuccessfully this year as the Democratic candidate for attorney general, and lost to incumbent Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a former U.S. senator. 

Ohio remains a pivotal state for the White House with John F. Kennedy the last Democrat to lose Ohio and go on to win the presidency, and no Republican of remembrance doing so in decades. The term-limited President Obama, a Democrat, won Ohio in both 2008 and 2012.

Pepper, of Cincinnati, is a Yale Law School graduate, a former Cincinnati councilman, and a former member of the Hamilton County, Ohio Board of Commissioners. He and his wife, Alana Swartz Pepper, welcomed their first child in May, Jacob "Jack" Pepper. 

Fours years ago the Republicans initiated a sweep of statewide offices that saw Gov John Kasich oust Democrat Ted Strickland in a close election. And the popular Kasich, who is considering a run for president in 2016, was reelected to a second term this year by a 64 percent to 33 percent landslide vote over Ed FitzGerald, the outgoing Cuyahoga County executive.

None of the Democrats who ran statewide this year, including Pepper and secretary of state candidate Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, came close to winning, though Connie Pillich lost to Treasurer Josh Mandel, 53 percent to 43 percent, the least percentage margin of loss among all of them.

Sharon Neuhardt, a Dayton attorney who ran this year for lieutenant governor on FitzGerald's unsuccessful gubernatorial ticket, bowed from consideration on Monday, leaving Pepper as the front-runner.

"She [Neuhardt] did not have the votes from the executive committee to win party chair," a Democratic party insider told Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper. ( / (