John Legend rallies voters in Dayton on Sunday. Photo by Jan Underwood.

John Legend comes to Dayton to rally Democrats in final Sunday push

Music star, and Springfield native, John Legend and Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, were among those rallying volunteers, especially for congressional candidate Theresa Gasper on the last Sunday before the election.

“We have the power to preserve our democracy,” Legend, microphone in hand, told a gym full of volunteers. “We’re going to do that.”

Gasper is the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, in Ohio’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery and Greene counties and part of Fayette County.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, also spoke, noting that beyond the race between incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown and his Republican opponent Jim Renacci — a race in which Brown maintains a healthy lead in the polls — many statewide races are essentially tied. Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine are in a tight race to succeed term-limited Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“It is tough to win as an Ohio Democrat,” Pepper said, adding: “We have a once-in-a-generation chance to win this thing.”

Asked if he felt a Democrat could win the 10th District, Perez said in an interview after his public remarks: “Underdogs win. The lesson I’ve learned from 19 months on the job is that we’ve got to increase our risk tolerance threshold. Because last year they said we couldn’t win in Alabama — and now (Democrat) Doug Jones is a U.S. senator.”

“We’ve been flipping seats across this country,” he added. “Four state legislative seats in Oklahoma, in the heart of Trump country.”

Perez said the national party has invested more in Ohio for this mid-term election cycle than any previous mid-term election.

“The energy on the ground level is actually palpable,” Gasper said in an interview. “It’s so much fun. Whether or not we have people coming in — which is wonderful that we do, especially John Legend — I have so many Republicans coming up to me saying, ‘I’m voting straight Democratic ticket.’

She added: “This isn’t really about me and Turner anymore. This is something bigger.”

“People in the community know me and know of my work, first as mayor in building the Schuster Center, baseball stadium, and Riverscape; and now as congressman, working to continue to invest in our community and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said in a statement Sunday. “Our community knows I will never stop fighting for them.”

A Turner spokeswoman said Turner knocked on doors Saturday with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is running as DeWine’s running mate, and will knock on doors and make phone calls with volunteers today with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” said Don Lomax, a Democratic Northwest team leader and precinct captain. “People see the condition the country is in, and they want change. And this is the way to change it.”

Maha Kashani, a Gasper supporter, agreed. “There is a lot of support at the local level, at the national level,” she said Sunday while waiting for candidates to arrive at the Dakota Center on Barnett Street.

“We have two days, about 50, 55 hours left to get this done,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “And the future of Ohio, the future of our country and frankly the future of the city is on the ballot this Tuesday.”

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