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Published: Thursday, 12/5/2013

David Duffey; 1953-2013: Top staffer for Ohio’s Dems got start in city

Duffey Duffey

COLUMBUS — David Duffey, 59, a top staffer of the Ohio Democratic Party who got his start in politics in Toledo, died Wednesday in his home in Columbus.

The cause of death was not available Wednesday.

Mr. Duffey was operations director and had worked for the party since 1988.

“David was somebody who really grew up as a political operative here in Toledo,” said Mike Beazley, city of Oregon administrator and a longtime Democratic Party leader.

The two met in the late 1970s working on various local, state, and national campaigns. Mr. Duffey was a student at the University of Toledo law school and a member of the student senate at the time. He was very active in former Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste’s 1978 campaign and also worked for then-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) during his unsuccessful bid for president in 1980, Mr. Beazley said.

He was hired in 1981 as executive director of the Lucas County Democratic Party by then-Chairman Jim Ruvolo. Mr. Ruvolo became state Democratic chairman in 1983 and hired Mr. Duffey as the state party’s director of operations in 1988.

“He knew and understood all the campaign finance rules and laws better than anyone out there. He more or less lived his job,” Mr. Beazley said. He noted Mr. Duffey had a nice group of friends but never married and did not have children.

A native of Silver Lake, Ohio, near Akron, Mr. Duffey graduated from UT’s law school.

“He was incredibly industrious, incredibly committed to the Democratic Party. He was very progressive. This was not a middle-of-the-road Democrat. He was from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He was someone who felt passionately about social welfare issues,” said Mr. Ruvolo, now a political consultant.

“He was terrific. It didn’t matter what you needed done, he did it,” Mr. Ruvolo said. He said Mr. Duffey sometimes brought homemade pizzas to the party headquarters.

Mr. Beazley added, “David was one of the earliest pioneers in making homemade sausage pizza. I stole his recipe and have evolved mine from his.”

“Without reservation, David dedicated both his personal and professional life to furthering our Democratic values each and every day,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said. “David was a friend to generations of Democrats across our state, and he will be sorely missed in the days ahead.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Staff writers Tom Troy and Marlene Harris-Taylor contributed to this report.

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