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Published: Friday, 3/30/2012

Most Ohio Dem leaders support Redfern

Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party chairman. Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party chairman.
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Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern has won a show of support from a majority of the 66-member Ohio Democratic Party central committee, according to a letter distributed among the committee members and obtained Thursday by The Blade.

The proof will be when the party's central committee meets in April to elect its leadership.

Fifty members signed the letter dated Wednesday promising their backing for Mr. Redfern against a challenge being brought by Lorain County Democratic official Anthony Giardini, according to Mr. Redfern.

"I'm delighted to have the overwhelming support of the central committee," Mr. Redfern said.

The letter calls Mr. Redfern "an outstanding leader for the Ohio Democratic Party" and says he "has worked tirelessly on behalf of all Ohio Democrats: fund-raising, recruiting candidates, and speaking with a clear voice for our Democratic values."

It goes on to say, "Now is not the time for a change in leadership -- too much is at stake. It is up to us to re-elect Chris Redfern as state chairman during this critical presidential and senatorial election year."

The Ohio Democratic Party is expected to meet for the biennial reorganization in April, after all the counties are finished certifying the March 6 election results, in which state central committee members were elected.

Anthony Giardini of Lorain, Ohio, has emerged as a challenger of Redfern. Anthony Giardini of Lorain, Ohio, has emerged as a challenger of Redfern.

Mr. Giardini, the Democratic Party chairman for the city of Lorain, has written to the party's 66 central committee members asking for their votes when the committee meets to reorganize.

Mr. Giardini, a lawyer, said he decided to run after starting to become more active in the state party's county chairmen's organization. He said he talked to many people who believed that Mr. Redfern had let down the party in 2010, when Democrats lost every statewide race. And he said Mr. Redfern's decision to run for the General Assembly would distract him from the party's needs and create potential conflicts of interest.

Mr. Redfern, of Catawba Island Township, has been state party chair since December, 2005, and is running for re-election to the General Assembly after a four-year hiatus. He is seeking the seat for the 89th House District, which includes Ottawa and Erie counties. He previously was a state representative who was barred from running again in 2008 because of term limits.

He noted Thursday that at the time he was both chairman and state representative, the state elected a Democratic governor -- Ted Strickland in 2006 -- for the first time since 1990 and a Democratic president -- Barack Obama -- for the first time since 1996.

Mr. Redfern declined to respond to criticism of the Republican sweep of statewide offices in 2010.

"I wish him much success as president of the Lorain City Democratic Club and I'm focused on what matters most and that's electing the President and Sen. [Sherrod] Brown and Yvette McGee Brown [to the Ohio Supreme Court]," Mr. Redfern said.

The Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council has written to the central committee urging defeat of Mr. Redfern's re-election bid.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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