Southwestern Ohio ‘ground zero’ in fight for White House

Democrats from across Southwest Ohio rallied Friday in downtown Cincinnati, ready for a political fight for president in November but also wanting to make sure down ticket candidates were promoted.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, speaking at the Southwest Ohio Democrats luncheon, believes 2016 will be similar to 2008 and 2012 where Hamilton County is not only going to support Democratic presidential presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, but win by enough to help negate the more Republican counties, like Butler and Warren counties.

“The last couple of (presidential election) cycles, there was great turnout in Hamilton County they’re looking to build that out again,” said Pepper.

And getting more voters out in November could provide a different outcome in the 8th Congressional District race, and that’s “when people really can have their say.”

“The real election will obviously be in November. Unfortunately when (former Speaker John) Boehner retired when he did led to a very awkward moment of the election. People were not used to voting on that day, but that’s not a huge surprise,” Pepper said. “The good news is people will have an opportunity in November when people start showing up for the broader election.”

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the keynote speaker of the luncheon, said Ohio is “totally ground zero” for the presidential election.

And the focus she said are in purple areas of the state, like Hamilton County, that have voted Democratic and Republican in the past.

“There’s going to be a total focus on this part of the state,” she said of Southwest Ohio.

And over the course of the next month, she sees a push for voter registration and party mobilization, calling it a key.

Another key, she said, is to show the differences between the parties.

“Contrast always creates a spark,” Granholm said. “There’s such enormous contrast in this race between the Democratic Party candidate and the Republican Party candidate for president, but also the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the direction they’ve been taking the country.

“There will be some percussiveness, I would say, but choice is what it’s all about and voters will definitely see a choice.”

Republicans have argued there is a divided Democratic Party because U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has remained in the race despite being behind in the delegate count, which the AP has reported Clinton has achieved the minimum number of delegate support to claim the party’s nomination.

But Granholm said that is “coming to an end” on the Democratic Party side.

“There’s going to be unity on the Democratic side. Democrats are totally excited about this ticket — who will she pick for vice president — and they’re especially excited to be able to point out the contrast,” she said.