12 December 2005

Will Ohio Dems Sing to the Tune of Todd Portune?

The Ohio Democratic Party needs a new chair now that Denny White has stepped down. Vying to fill his small shoes are Todd Portune, Chris Redfern and several other people we've never heard of.

Todd Portune is Hamilton County's most popular official. He got more votes in 2004 than anyone else on the ballot-- more than Bush and Voinovich (and Voinovich set an Ohio record for the most votes statewide).

And it's little wonder why; Portune is a great official who has bipartisan respect. He is smart, hard-working, and committed to the public interest. He is not overly partisan. Eric Kearney practiced law with him years ago, and respects Portune's legal mind and work ethic. And Kearney is also not overly partisan (in fact, liberal partisans objected to his appointment), so his support for Portune carries weight.

The ODP would not be served well by someone overly partisan. That would just continue the bipartisan 'Cold War' and we'd be right back where we started, with two huge political organizations whose primary function is to perpetuate their own [expensive] existence.

Portune's background is as a public official, not a party activist, and that's an advantage. He has actual experience with government and citizens. He can make the Democratic Party the force of Ohio’s future, rather than the force of special interests. Portune isn’t old school; he’s one of the new wave of progressive Dems like Mark Mallory and Eric Kearney.

But Portune is a County Commissioner, and his primary obligation is to serve the people of Hamilton County. The ODP chairmanship would be a second job on top of the one he already has. Portune (as far as I know) has no plans to leave one job for the other, and has said he can fulfill the role as Dem chair without compromising his duties as Commissioner.

In my judgment, that has to be true for Portune to get support. It is not acceptable for Hamilton County citizens to be shortchanged. After all, we are already being shortchanged by the other two commissioners: an anti-democratic ideologue, Phil Heimlich, who is working to undermine the voter-approved Drake levy as you read this, and Pat "I deserve higher office” DeWine. Portune has lost more commitment to local citizens than either of these two clowns ever had to begin with.

Nevertheless, Portune was elected, and he has to do his job, period. It is easier for the Dems to find another chair than it is for Hamilton County to replace Todd Portune. If he can do both jobs effectively, then it would seem the ODP can do a lot worse than Todd Portune.

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