By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
Some circumstances require leaders to take charge, force difficult issues, and make tough decisions, while others require leaders to enable, support, and include people. Similarly, organizations sometimes need leaders to focus on their future strategic direction and other times to focus on day-to-day operations and execution. – Rob Kaiser
The signs of a shifting political landscape threatening to change Lucas County from blue to purple make it apparent that Michael Ashford is soon out as chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party.
More intra-party drama surfaced last week when the progressive wing of the local Dems put together a concise letter to Liz Walters, Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman, asking for a review of Ashford’s leadership.
The correspondence outlined perceived failures and other clothesline talk, including the lack of a treasurer, money spent illegally, loss of volunteers, a building unusable because of mold and asbestos, meetings that devolved into shouting matches and physical altercations, and losing races they should have won.
Unsurprisingly, U.S. and Ohio Dems are concerned that control of the House and Senate may change hands in 2024 as U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D. Ohio) attempts to hold onto his seat in a state that has recently gone from blue to red.
And, yes, the Dems indeed lost several local races in 2022 that they should have won. For example, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, lost Lucas County by a wide margin to Republican Mike DeWine. One can also make the case that Vallie Bowman English should be a County Court of Common Pleas judge. Erika White and Nancy Larson also had a pathway to victory in the Ohio Legislature. Still, Republicans Derrick Merrin and Josh Williams prevailed basically because of the Dems’ failure to drive voter turnout.
The truth, however, is that other dark blue strongholds, including states like California and Oregon, “underperformed,” as midterms races are typically low-turnout elections that benefit the “out party.”
What is also true, though, is that local fundraising is way down, and the Dems appear to be insolvent or bankrupt. Ashford has yet to present a plan to move the Party forward. While he appeared to shepherd the Party through the early stages of COVID, Ashford needs to be more versatile in his thinking to adjust to the resulting Post-Covid economic challenges or trends in the ideas and attitudes of younger party members. The resignation of Ashford’s hand-picked vice president and eight county executive team members is additional evidence of the Ashford-led intra-party quagmire.
What happens now?
It is not a good look for the Party when its first Black chairman cannot finish his term. Yet, African Americans, including Paula Hicks Hudson, Willie Perryman, Tony Totty, Kwinlyn Tyler, John Hobbs, and others, signed the letter requesting a full investigation of the Lucas County Democratic Party by the Ohio Dems. Others, like Elgin Rogers, Erika White, and Vallie Bowman-English, felt they could not agree to sign the document.
To Ashford’s credit, he has been a great fundraiser for a diverse set of candidates’ campaigns over the years, has had a stellar career in the Ohio Legislature, and still has much left to contribute.
As far as the misappropriation of funds?
Some describe the accusations as a pressure tactic to put heat on Ashford until he resigns. Ashford will likely counter, “The Party has no money because we spent it on things like candidate slates and mailings, the things the Party wanted it spent on.” Yet, there is a need to bring donors and resources back to the Party and prepare for the 2024 election cycle, where the Dems are currently vulnerable.
Ashford is not diplomatic or a compromiser but a fighter who will not be “bullied, punked, or shamed” but is determined to go out on his own terms.
Nevertheless, the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) wants to uncomplicate anything affecting national or statewide elections. ODP desires that their dirty laundry be aired even less in the media or streets.
So, look for the Party to install Paula Hicks Hudson as interim Party chair in the next few days while providing Ashford with “a soft landing,” enabling him to focus on his elected office and campaign for Lucas County Recorder without worrying about being primaried.
It’s a done deal.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org