Ohio statewide Democratic candidates came to Dayton on Friday united by one message: Democrats need to vote this fall.
“Voting will solve everything that ails us,” said State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, who is running for secretary of state against Republican incumbent Jon Husted.
State Rep. Connie Pillich, D-Montgomery, said she was ahead by just five votes on Election Night in her 2010 House race against a tea party activist. The final results ultimately gave her a wider edge but she said the lesson is every vote counts, and to emphasize it she ran around the perimeter of the lunch hour crowd at Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District high-fiving people and asking them to get her five votes in her race for treasurer against incumbent Josh Mandel.
Democrats hammered Ohio Republican leaders for restricting voting rights and said they are wasting taxpayer money by appealing federal court rulings overturning those state restrictions, including the state’s reduction in early voting hours.
“You need a secretary of state who will expand and protect access to the ballot box for all people and it doesn’t matter to me if they lean a little red, a little blue, a little country, a little rock and roll, a little R&B,” Turner said. “I just want folks to be able to vote.”
Chris Schrimpf, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, responded via email and said Republicans made it easier for people to vote, not harder, by mailing out absentee ballot applications to all voters.
Schrimpf said the Democrats use “extreme rhetoric in an effort to motivate their voters, many of whom are probably backing Republicans this year.”
“Republicans solved the $8 billion budget hole the Democrats left behind and did it while cutting taxes by $3 billion,” said Schrimpf. “Simply put, Ohio is seeing more jobs, higher wages and more money in the pockets of the middle class under Republican leadership.”
The Dayton kickoff to the Democratic Party’s Tour to Restore Ohio included six statewide Democratic candidates and 5th District Senate candidate Dee Gillis, a Tipp City councilwoman. The tour is scheduled to hit 12 cities by Tuesday. Candidates appearing in Dayton also included Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive running for governor and his running mate, Dayton attorney Sharen Neuhardt, auditor candidate David Pepper, and State Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, who is running for the Ohio Supreme Court.
The latest polls show all Democratic statewide candidates trailing incumbent Republicans, so Democrats are focusing on get out the vote efforts.
FitzGerald said the state uses local governments “basically as an ATM” by cutting money that pays for local services in order to give tax cuts to the wealthy. He said job creation in Ohio has been anemic compared to other states and many of the new jobs are low paying.
The speeches pleased Stacey Benson, a staff representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who attended the event.
“It’s a strong ticket that really believes in workers and fighting for the people,” Benson said.
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