Very disappointing meeting last night of the Montgomery County Democratic Party Executive Meeting. The party leadership extracted revenge on David Esrati, refusing to endorse Esrati as the Democratic Party candidate for the US Congress to represent this district (OH-10) and to defeat the incumbent Republican — Mike Turner.
The focus of the meeting was to act on the recommendations of the Screening Committee concerning endorsements. Last May, Esrati won the Democratic Primary with over 11,000 votes — defeating three other Democratic candidates — but, regardless of the will of Democratic Primary voters, incredibly, the decision of the MCDP Screening Committee was to not endorse Esrati. This decision was discussed at the meeting. The subsequent vote failed to reverse that non-endorsement.
Now, because of this lack of endorsement, Esrati will not be permitted to have access to the ODP data base and his name will be omitted from the 60,000 “slate cards” that the party will mail in October. And, because of this lack of endorsement, Esrati will have more difficulty in raising the funds every campaign needs.
There were four of us who spoke in favor of endorsement. I emphasized three points: 1) If the Screening Committee had such strong opposition to Esrati, the time to torpedo Esrati was before the May Primary — not after over 11,000 Democrats had made their choice. 2) The big task now is for the party to become united. I emphasized that everyone knows that without unity, the party has no chance of success. 3) David Esrati, if elected, would be a good and conscientious representative who would advance Democratic ideals.
I said that yes, David Esrati has been outspoken and combative and severely critical of MCDP leadership and has said harsh words he shouldn’t have said, or said in a less contentious way — but, regardless, it is absurd and it hurts the party to reject the will of the Democratic Primary voters. I said Esrati would be much much better than Republican Turner and that non-endorsement of an elected Democratic Primary candidate would make sense only for a compelling reason — such as the candidate being indicted for a criminal offense, etc. — but in this case, the reasons being given for non-endorsement to me seemed petty and personal.
Also speaking passionately in favor of endorsement was Amanda Davis, Dalma Grandjean, and Tony Curington.
Speaking against endorsement was Mark Owens — the long-time MCDP Chairperson who stepped down from that position at the June Reorganization Meeting. Mark urged non-endorsement and hammered on examples of statements he claimed that Esrati has made that were so offensive as to disqualify him from endorsement. After the meeting, I talked with Esrati and he said that he would consider suing Owens for making enflamed and untrue accusations.
The way I saw it, Owens and the MCDP insiders were getting their revenge on Esrati for his unrelenting criticism, over the years, of the practices of the MCDP leadership.
I am disappointed in the MCDP — At this September meeting I was flabbergasted by the absurd and unjustified rejection of the Democratic Primary voters. In our previous meeting, in July, I was dismayed and shocked that at the end of the meeting a fistfight almost broke out after Casey Amadon denounced the actions of MCDP Vice-Chair, Diane Walsh, and MCDP Screening Committee member, Thomas Ritchie. These prominent members of the MCDP also are officers in the AFL-CIO and were instrumental in approving the union’s endorsement of Phil Plummer, the Republican incumbent representing Ohio House District 40. (See Esrati’s post: The Montgomery County Un-Democratic Party/Brawl/Embarrassment.)
A two-thirds vote is required for endorsement and the motion to endorse failed by a lot. I knew the fix was in because of the small size of the group in attendance — many of whom were old-timers, like Owens, who over the years have accumulated a lot of animosity towards Esrati. Only 52 MCDP members participated last night. Missing from the group was Jocelyn Rhynard and many of her supporters, including Amadon. Rhynard sought election as MCDP Chairperson at the June Reorganization and came in second to Mohamed Al-Hamdani.
At the May Democratic Primary, less that one-half of the precincts in the county — 187 out of 381 — had a candidate for election to the MCDP Central Committee (Renamed the Executive Committee at the June Reorganization Meeting.) Of that 187 elected members, only 52 attended the meeting last night. This small attendance, especially remarkable because ZOOM participation was permitted, indicates how weak the organization is.
When he was elected MCDP Chairperson, I had great hopes that Mohamed Al-Hamdani — a bright and likable man with a great personal history — would have the vision and leadership needed to build an effective 21st century Democratic party county organization.
But, after last night, my conclusion is that Al-Hamdani is off to a bad start. After the meeting last night I told Al-Hamdani that I was very disappointed in his lack of leadership in that meeting. I told him that the party must have unity and one of the big tasks of leadership is to bring members together and in this meeting, he had made no effort. Instead of leadership, he indulged the absurd call for revenge by simply acting as the Master of Ceremonies — allowing a train wreck that an effective leader should have done everything possible to avert.