At the conclusion of our MCDP meeting last night — after the proposed MCDP Constitution was approved with almost zero change — Casey Whitten-Amadon was given the microphone and after a slow and conciliatory-sounding beginning, launched an angry denunciation of the elephant in the room.
Earlier in evening, before the start of the meeting, I was in conversations with members who expressed shock and dismay that the recently elected vice-chair of the MCDP, Diane Walsh, and MCDP kingpin, Tom Ritchie — both officers in the AFL-CIO — had supported the AFL-CIO endorsement of REPUBLICAN incumbent Phil Plummer for re-election to the Ohio House.
Plummer is the notorious former Montgomery County Sheriff whose incompetence and arrogance has brought over $11 million dollars of law-suits against the county. He voted for the heart-beat bill and is so popular with the Republican radicals in the Ohio House that he has made known that he is seeking to become the next Speaker of the House. In 2018, when he was first elected he was serving as Chairperson of the Montgomery County Republican Party. According to the DDN article at that time, Plummer intended on remaining Chairperson. Interestingly, the MCRP web-site fails to list the MCRP officers, so I couldn’t determine if Plummer is still the MCRP Chair, or not.
After Casey’s impassioned denunciation of the actions of Walsh and Ritchie, the meeting ended and as Casey walked towards the exist he was accosted with a lot of F-words and one man declaring to Casey that he wanted to “beat his ass” — lunging at Casey and being held back. I asked one loud woman, a MCDP member, whose name I don’t know, why she was supporting Plummer. She said that in fact she was not supporting Plummer, but she was damn mad that someone would attack Tom Ritchie.
I asked Ritchie as he was walking away why the union had endorsed Plummer and he gave a non-answer that the union made the endorsement because the vote on the AFL-CIO Executive Committee was very lopsided — 32-2 in favor. (I’m not sure I heard those numbers correctly.) I persisted, and he said such an endorsement is not unusual. I persisted, “But why?” And he started walking faster.
I later talked with another member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee and she said that she had attended every AFL-CIO Executive Committee meeting and that there had never been a vote taken. Also, I heard that the usual procedure for rank-and-file input on AFL-CIO endorsements was not followed and that the endorsement seemed underhanded.
Somehow, for reasons that I’ve not discovered, Walsh and Ritchie believe it is in their self-interest or the self-interest of the AFL-CIO to support Plummer. These same leaders last night were in the majority opposing any changes to the proposed MCDP Constitution — their focus on self-interest evidently over-riding any hope of bringing harmony and agreement in the group. It is self-interest, not the interest of the good of the party, that makes leaders like Ritchie want to have the authority in the Constitution for pushing early endorsements and for determining which Democrats should compete in Democratic Party Primaries.
These Plummer supporters wanted the proposed Constitution. It not only empowers the outrageous practice of early endorsements in a Democratic Primary, it copies the corrupt and anti-democratic structure of the Ohio Democratic Party, empowering the influx of as many as 140, or more, new voting members — friends, family, county workers, etc. The approval of these new members will be by guess who? Yes, the majority group in charge last night who brooks no compromise.
Marty Gehres was a leader on the Constitution Committee and presented the Constitution to the group last night. Marty, through his association with the MCDP, has risen to become elected Clerk of Courts. I was amused how he tried to make the case that the new Constitution was, in fact, a compromise on endorsements. He highlighted such provisions as, “The Chairperson, at his or her sole discretion, may endeavor to hold a pre-screening candidates forum and / or furnish a voters’ guide.”
We should have all burst out laughing. It is nice that the new Constitution empowers the Chairperson to endeavor — endeavor, that is, if he or she chooses to endeavor.
It is silly to put vague promises in a Constitution. According to the actions of last night, all signs point to a future where the MCDP — regardless of the perfidy that was revealed — will continue to do the bidding of Ritchie and Walsh and the old guard they lead.
The self-interest that would motivate Democratic Party leaders to endorse REPUBLICAN Phil Plummer, of all people, was on display last night — the elephant in the room. Casey did the organization a favor by clearly denouncing a Democratic leadership that would have such gall.