Ohio Politics

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Sen. Brown backing Neuhardt to lead Ohio Democrats

Jessica Wehrman in our Washington Bureau is reporting that

Sharen Swartz Neuhardt

Yellow Springs attorney Sharen Neuhardt’s bid to become the new Ohio Democratic Party Chair has drawn the support of Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Brown, D-Ohio, endorsed Neuhardt Tuesday, calling her “a proven team player who will devote all of her time and energy to ensuring that Democrats have the resources to succeed at all levels.”

His endorsement came as Neuhardt, who lost her bid to become Ohio lieutenant governor last month, sent out an email to supporters about her bid.

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“We need a focused and full time chair who is committed to success at all levels of the party,” she wrote. “Our next party chair must be a team player and a good listener – and committed to diversity and inclusiveness.”

She said because she’s not running for office in the future, she can devote her time and fundraising abilities to “ensuring that our party has adequate resources and organization – without any conflicts between my interests and the party’s interests.”

Brown said he admired the fact that Neuhardt “stepped up” in 2014 and joined Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald after his first choice, state Sen. Eric Kearney stepped down after drawing headlines for unpaid taxes.

Brown previously endorsed party activist Dennis Wojtanowski. But Wojtanowski decided not to pursue the post when fellow Democrats criticized him for donating to Republicans in the past.

The party will select a new chair later this month. Its previous chair, Chris Redfern, announced he would resign on election night after sweeping losses by Democrats statewide. Redfern also lost his own state House seat.

Among others pursuing the post are former Hamilton County commissioner and Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper and Geauga County Democratic Chair Janet Carson.

If she wins, Neuhardt would be the first woman to chair the Ohio Democratic Party. Neuhardt also ran unsuccessful bids for Congress against Rep. Mike Turner in 2012 and former Rep. Steve Austria, R-Beavercreek, in 2008.

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