Repost from Cincinnati.com
A few days ago, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper penned a bizarre screed attacking U.S. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, by alleging some imaginary misdeed involving Ukraine.
David Pepper, then a candidate for Ohio attorney general, speaks with The Enquirer’s editorial board on October 2, 2014. The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor (Photo: The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor)
If you follow Pepper on Twitter, this will be nothing new. Pepper has an almost maniacal obsession with trolling Senator Portman. Ever since Portman’s reelection in 2016, Pepper has been assailing him daily.
It’s not clear what Pepper’s problem is with Portman. They’re both from Cincinnati, raised by successful families and attended top-notch universities. The only stark difference between them is their careers.
Portman is a highly respected and successful politician by both election and appointment. He has been elected seven times to Congress and twice to the Senate. He has served as a director of the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. trade representative.
Pepper’s career in public service is less impressive. He was off to a pretty good start getting elected to Cincinnati City Council, but then lost a campaign for mayor. Then he was elected as a Hamilton County commissioner in 2006, and that was his last winning election for public office. In 2010, he ran for auditor of state, losing to Dave Yost, and then for attorney general, losing to Mike DeWine.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, left, with Cincinnati’s Jim Obergefell, at the Democratic National Convention in July. (Photo: The Enquirer/Jason Williams)
In 2015, Pepper was elected chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.
A state party chairman has one job, and that is to elect members of their party to public office. To get that job done, you only have to do two things: raise money and recruit good candidates. To be fair, there’s a lot of work that goes into completing those two tasks to achieve that singular goal. I know, because I did it for four years as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.
By both measures, Pepper and the Ohio Democratic Party haven’t done very well.
The 2018 election was THE big year for Democrats; midterm elections tend to be a disaster for the party in the White House, and all five statewide offices were open seats. Democrats had some success in many states that year, but not Ohio. Republicans swept all five statewide offices that “Democrat wave” year.
Using nearly every possible metric, the party is failing this cycle, too. A Republican supermajority in the state Senate. Check. A near 2-to-1 Republican state House majority. Check. A strong and vibrant GOP congressional delegation chock full of key committee slots and nationally recognized party leaders. You betcha. Of course, there’s all those statewide constitutional offices Republicans hold – with officials who are popular and working alongside a robust Ohio Republican Party.
And if all that weren’t enough, consider that just this week it was announced Ohio’s Republican Supreme Court candidates outraised their likely Democratic opponents nearly 15-1. That’s a staggering amount and illustrates the stark comparison between a vibrant Republican Party and state Democratic Party lacking leadership and aimlessly adrift.
You may be wondering why a lifelong Republican would care about the fortunes of the Ohio Democratic Party.
Strong Republican and Democratic parties provide stability and create healthy competition. Like Ray C. Bliss – the legendary county, state and national Republican chairman – I believe the two-party system is the key to the past success and future of our republic. That’s part of it.
Another part of it, I’m tired of Pepper’s one-man rant against Portman. Rob Portman is the kind of thoughtful, talented and hardworking politician that succeeds in Ohio. I like our senator and so do many Ohioans; he won his first election by 18 points and his reelection by 23 points! Frankly, Pepper trolling Portman is getting old.
The last part of it is an act of compassion. Pepper can’t be enjoying life very much behind a laptop or mobile phone hurling insults at Portman. Pepper has become the Jim Harbaugh of Ohio politics.
Kevin DeWine is a former Ohio Republican Party chairman and speaker pro tem of the Ohio House of Representatives.