The Empire Strikes Back: The Ohio Democratic Party Spends Big Bucks on Lieberman and Winburn

I received a professionally produced full color handbill in the mail yesterday praising Debbie Lieberman and urging me to “Re-elect Debbie Lieberman on March 4th.” In large print is the statement, “Endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party.” On the front of the handbill are several nice pictures of Debbie, one by herself, one with her and Commissioners Dan Foley and Judy Dodge and the statement, “Team Montgomery County, Working Together for a better tomorrow.”

There is no mention on the handbill about the fact that Debbie a few weeks ago was arrested for drunk driving and that the video of her embarrassing drunken encounter with the police was widely shown on local TV.

The handbill has a boxed statement printed on it, “Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, Chairman” Producing these handbills and mailing them to Democrats throughout the county, I’m guessing, must have cost the state Democratic Party something close to $30,000.

Debbie has no Republican challenger in the fall general election. She does have a Democratic opponent in the March 4 Democratic Primary, a man named Mark Anthony Newberry. I don’t know much about him, but, I’m voting for Newberry.

In the 40th Ohio House District the state Democratic Party is distributing a full color, great looking handbill urging 40th District Democrats to vote for Roland Winburn. The headlines say that Roland is the “Endorsed Democrat,” and that “Democrats Endorse Roland Winburn for State Representative.” It features pictures of State Senator Tom Roberts and State Representative Fred Strahorn along with statements of endorsements. Again the handbill includes the boxed statement, “Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, Chairman.” Producing these handbills and mailing them to 40th District Democrats had to cost something like $9,000.

Roland’s competitor is Victor Harris, the non-endorsed candidate, and Victor has been advancing a good campaign — sending two mailers to all 40th District Democrats, TV and radio ads, and door to door visits with Democrats throughout the District. A huge boost to Vic has been the unprecedented strong support of the Dayton Daily News which in several prominent editorials has urged 40th District Democrats to support Victor. This post explains.

The Empire — the Democratic Machine — is striking back. This outpouring of money from the State Democratic Party to support Debbie Lieberman is outrageous. But even more maddening is the fact that the State Party is spending money in the 40th District to promote one viable Democratic candidate over another viable Democratic candidate. The Party is corrupting the primary system and is showing itself to be corrupt — focused on promoting its own insider interests.

This $50,000, or so, that the state machine is pouring into Montgomery County for Winburn and Lieberman is wasted money. This money should be used to help elect Democrats in marginal Districts.

Word is that the Democratic Party also is organizing workers to hand out pro-Winburn literature at 100 ft from each polling place in the 40th District. The Party will pay each poll campaigner a wage for the day. I don’t know how much. This action is simply outrageous.

Victor is organizing poll campaigners to match the Party machine’s poll campaigning efforts. He needs help to make this effort successful. If you have any time on March 4 to campaign at a polling place in the 40th District — to talk with incoming voters and give out Victor’s literature — send me an e-mail ASAP at Or, leave me a message at 298-8703. I am going door to door this afternoon and I will respond to any e-mails or messages this evening. We really need a grassroots uprising to help Victor in this election effort.

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20 Responses to The Empire Strikes Back: The Ohio Democratic Party Spends Big Bucks on Lieberman and Winburn

  1. David Esrati says:

    Voting for Mark Anthony Newberry- when you say “I don’t know much about him” is stupid.
    The better thing to do is not vote for either in that case. Mr. Newberry has his own set of legal problems.
    I agree that the State Party wasting money on these stupid mailers (they don’t say a thing) is bordering on criminal- and in the 40th, where there is ZERO chance of a Republican winning- a waste of money.
    The good news is- they didn’t spend it on Jane MItakides. They know doing a mailing endorsing her in a district including 4 counties – where 3 didn’t endorse, would be wrong.
    She also won’t be on the “Slate Card” that will be handed out at polling places.
    Serious questions need to be asked about this expense- and an apology is owed to Lt. Col. Harris.
    It’s this kind of game playing that makes me proud not to be running within the machine.

  2. Mike Bock says:

    Yes, saying that I will vote for Newberry might be a rash reaction. I don’t know really one thing about Newberry — except that he is a Democrat. I’m thinking that maybe in this case it is OK to use the privilege of voting to register protest. After all, the only path to reform is via the voting booth. The State Democratic Party has sent me an expensive mailer urging me to vote for Debbie. Is the state party spending this money because it is worried that Mr. Newberry at the last minute will create such a compelling campaign that Debbie might actually lose? No. I don’t think anyone ever expected Mr. Newberry to do anything. I’m wondering if maybe Debbie has done some polling and has discovered that there is a movement among Montgomery County Democrats to punish her for her drunken driving arrest and for the appearance of unfair influence that was revealed in the aftermath of her arrest — Dennis telephoning the judge, etc.? Maybe the mailing was prompted by the fear of a protest vote stemming from this whole episode. The protest I want to register is a protest to the state party of their attempt to influence my judgment through one sided and expensive propaganda. Why is the state party spending money on this race? What am I missing?

    If Mr. Newberry would actually be nominated, then wouldn’t the Republicans look even sillier than they already look in not finding even one viable candidate to stand for election to such an important position as County Commissioner? And if Mr. Newberry actually assumes the office of County Commissioner, the county, I’m sure could still be competently directed by the other two commissioners.

    I imagine there will be a lot of protest votes going to Newberry this primary. And since Lieberman has cut a deal to have no Republican opposition in the fall general election, I’m would not be surprised if, to show their wrath with the system, voters will turn on Judy Dodge and put a Republican in her place.

    Can you find anyone to help campaign at the polls for Victor? Are you campaigning at the polls for your own primary election effort?

  3. David Esrati says:

    The bigger question is can an independent still get on the ballot? I’m not sure about the County ballot access issues. With no need for a primary- an independent filing deadline may be 60 days before the election. It may require a boatload of signatures- but may be possible.
    As to “working the polls” on election day- I have a small business, I can’t take time off of work to try to change voters minds at the last minute.
    The Montgomery County Democratic Party may be about to learn a lesson the hard way for playing god with the process. Imagine if Ms. Lieberman had killed someone while driving drunk? Then we’d have her in prison, and Newberry as our next Commissioner.

  4. Mike Bock says:

    I’m wondering if it Is possible to have a write-in candidate. Do you know?

  5. David Esrati says:

    Even if it was possible- the odds of winning as a write in are slim and none.

  6. MJ says:

    Mr. Bock:

    If you knew how the process works in using the postage paid stamp on mailers and the cost of doing a mail piece through ODP you would also know that the candidate is required to write a check to the Ohio Democratic Party for the postage amount and lit piece before the mailer goes out the door. While technically the ODP would incur the initial postage bill, you will also find checks written to the ODP for this same amount making the use of their postage paid a total wash.

    The cost of the literature piece is also handled the same way. It looks like a nice controversy, but in reality it is a non issue.

  7. Mike Bock says:

    MJ — are you saying that regardless that the mailers clearly say, “Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, Chairman,” the money needed to create and mail this literature actually comes from the candidate’s campaign — not, as indicated, from the Democratic Party? Is this true?

    In my previous comment I asked, “Why is the state party spending money on this race? What am I missing?” Your theory that the money is simply coming from the campaigns, not from the State Party, helps answer those questions. The literature, by clearly stating that it is “paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party,” is communicating the message that this candidate is so highly thought of by the State Party, that the Party is making a commitment of money to support his or her election. If your theory is correct and the money is simply coming from the candidate’s campaign, then the literature sorely and unethically misrepresents itself, and, the State Democratic Party, by its participation, is guilty of perpetuating a fraud.

  8. Apparently Newberry has a violent side to his which has garnered a few convictions according to this DDN article. He says these incidents have been “mollified”, hmmm.

  9. Mike Bock says:

    Bruce — Thanks for the DDN link. This is the first I’ve heard of Newberry’s convictions.

  10. MJ says:

    I don’t know the answer to that. I thinkyou have to apply for the use of the postage paid stamp as well as include the actual piece to the ODP in advance. This has been the case for as long as I can remember.

  11. Mike,

    I was a little surprised that the DDN buried that article on page 6 next to the fold. Especially after giving Debbie’s story front page.

    Also I apologize for the typos in my earlier comment, I wish the webmaster would allow us to edit our own comments. (hint hint)


  12. Jeffrey says:

    “Word is that the Democratic Party also is organizing workers to hand out pro-Winburn literature at 100 ft from each polling place in the 40th District. The Party will pay each poll campaigner a wage for the day. I don’t know how much. This action is simply outrageous.”

    Sounds like someone doesn’t know much about the mechanics of politics.

    This was standard operating practice in Kentucky, the job of the precinct captains, to ensure they or their workers (I was a worker for a precinct captain) was out ther handing out slates and lit to the voters at the polling place.

    If there was two people running in a primary it was expected that both of them would have a organization in place that could cover the precincts on election day.

    The only thing I think is wierd in this story is that they spending so much money on Lieberman when she is pretty much a shoe-in.

  13. Mike Bock says:

    Jeffrey — The action I am reacting to, and calling it “outrageous,” is the prospect that the Democratic Party is so determined to push Winburn that it will spend money to hire daily workers to campaign at the polls. I’m not even sure that this will happen, because it seems, to me, such action is so unreasonable that, to me, it seems unbelievable. That the Party is prepared to take such action, as a strategy to interfere in a primary election, may just be a rumor with no substance. But I heard a report of the Party’s plans from someone I think is a good source.

    Such Party interference, if in fact it does happen, goes way beyond “the mechanics of politics.” If the Winburn campaign has the capacity to hire individuals to work the polls, then, of course that is fair, and all part of making choices of how to spend money to run an effective campaign. It is not fair, however, it is not common practice, and it is not simply “the mechanics of politics” for the Party itself, using Party resources, to show extravagant favoritism during a primary contest to one Democratic candidate at the expense of another legitimate Democratic candidate. If the Party pays poll workers to promote Winburn, I would say that is an extravagant act. The Party has already shown unfair favoritism simply by its endorsement process and by the fact that Winburn’s mailer, according to the printed message on the mailer, was paid for by the State Party. If the Party in its thinking can justify such favoritism, then paying poll workers with Party money would simply be justified with the same reasoning.

    After the election, I want to research to find out exactly where the money for the Party’s primary election efforts comes from. According to MJ, who commented above, regardless that the mailers specifically state, “Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party,” the money actually simply comes from the individual campaigns, rather than the Party’s treasury. Maybe so. After this primary election, I want to find the truth about what exactly the Party did to assist Roland Winburn in his primary race with Vic Harris.

  14. Clueless says:

    Clueless Mike: What exactly did you think the Party did when it endorsed Winburn? “Party Interference?” The Party ENDORSED a candidate. It was the decision of the Party (including the committee you sit on!) that one candidate is better qualified than the other, therefore it put its weight behind getting them endorsed. What do you think the purpose of an endorsement is???? I know you’re new to this whole political thing, but I’m not sure how much more ignorant about politics you can be?

  15. T. Ruddick says:

    Hi Clueless. It’s quite obvious to me that the Owens/Lieberman oligarchy is NOT promoting the best qualified candidates. Rather, they endorse the people who have been loyal party lackeys. Incumbents with clean records get rejected in favor of wannabes whose only qualification is that they walked precincts more often. Those wannabes then take office and announce that their availability for contact is limited to lunch hours and evenings. NOT what the Dayton Metro region most needs, but as long as the populace of Dayton will vote “yellow dog”, they get the government officials they deserve.

  16. Clueless says:

    Hi T. Ruddick. Let’s talk a couple of facts here…. Roland Winburn has a RECORD of service in this community. He is an elected official who has worked with the citizens of the Dayton area for YEARS! Harris just got in town! No one even knows who he is, or what kind of a leader he would be. What’s so evil about asking someone to get involved in our community for awhile and get to know the people of the region before jumping in and declaring yourself worthy of a State Rep seat? These are trying times and we need people in these positions who know how to get things done.

  17. David Esrati says:

    Clueless- don’t give me the “I was born and raised in Dayton” argument for getting elected- it’s the lamest line in politics.
    If Vic Harris is so bad- why did the DDN go and give him a gleaming review?
    What’s the matter with a primary? And debates? If Winburn has nothing to worry about- then why is the MCDP so worried.
    Vic Harris has probably done more for this country in a single day than Roland Winburn did in a month of weeks when he was a lt. Col in the Army.
    We’ll see who knows how to get things done by days end.

  18. Clueless says:

    I never said I didn’t like Vic, I just said he should get to know the community he’s trying to represent before he tries to represent it. I don’t see that as an unreasonable request.

  19. Mike Bock says:

    Clueless, You imply that the endorsement process of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is based on a process of analysis that determines which candidate is better qualified to serve in a particular office. This is probably what a lot of voters think that MCDP endorsement means, but this view of endorsement is simply wrong. In deciding who to endorse, out of a group of people, the main concern of the MCDP is not defining who, if elected, would do the better job. The central criteria for MCDP endorsement is electability. And electability usually has a lot to do with finding and spending the money needed to get elected. If two candidates are equally matched by the usual criteria used to evaluate job qualification — previous work experiences, educational background, etc. — and one brings $100,000 to the table and the other doesn’t, guess which one the Party will endorse?

    And suppose the candidates are not so equal in qualifications, and the lesser qualified brings $100,000 to the table? When MCDP endorses a candidate to Democrats, I think they are clear that their endorsement is based on an evaluation of who has the best chance of winning the election. It seems to me, again, the factor that usually most influences the endorsement of a candidate is his or her electability. Additional money on the table increases electability. An endorsement by a Political Party has little or nothing to do with a process of analysis to determine who would best serve the people. An endorsement by the Party is usually a signal by the Party of who they think has the best chance of winning.

    In the case of Winburn and Harris, candidates for the 40th OHD, it appears to me that Winburn was endorsed mostly through the efforts of Fred Strahorn, a likeable and well thought of politician, the current term-limited 40th OHD representative. Evidently, Strahorn recruited Winburn to run as a candidate for 40th OHD, and advocated Winburn to other Party insiders. Strahorn is a young man, and is interested in continuing and furthering his political career. Victor Harris also is a young man and also interested in starting and furthering a political career. Roland Winburn is 62. Ten years from now, if things go well for him, Roland might aspire to be sitting on a beach in Florida. But in ten years, if things go well for them, both Strahorn and Harris will be at the peak of their political career possibilities. It seems obvious to me that Strahorn’s motivation in pushing Winburn, rather than Harris, is the fact that Strahorn doesn’t want to promote a rival in his own back yard. Winburn is not a rival. Winburn is a safe choice.

    You write, “It is the decision of the Party that one candidate is better qualified than the other.” If you think that the Party’s endorsement indicates that the Party has concluded that Winburn is more qualified than Harris, then you are wrong. As I said, generally, MCDP defines qualification in terms of electability. But in the 40th OHD, electability is not such an important concern, because the 40th OHD usually votes 70% Democratic. The Winburn endorsement, therefore was not even based on Winburn’s qualifications, even if qualification, wink, means, electability. In this case of the 40th District endorsement, it seems to me, the MCDP endorsement all had to do with the fact that a well placed insider, Strahorn, manipulated the MCDP system of endorsement for his own political advantage. The Party had no penalty to pay by endorsing a weaker candidate because the Democrats always win the 40th OHD. The only penalty important to the Party is the penalty of losing at the polls.

    If the 40th OHD District was a competitive district and if the MCPD had anticipated that a strong Republican would run for the 40th OHD seat, then the matter of electability would have had bearing. In that scenario, playing around with insider politics to the point of advancing a weak candidate, like Winburn, could well have meant losing the 40th OHD. On that scenario, the Party would have wanted to advance its strongest candidate. So, one way to look at it, Harris is a victim of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering gives a Party a monopoly, and monopolies have little motivation to innovate or produce quality. Because of gerrymandering, the Party has a monopoly in the 40th OHD. Because of gerrymandering, the Party knew it could play insider politics, and could advance a weak candidate without the fear of penalty.

  20. SOMEONE says:

    You talk about a protest vote for Mark Anthony Newberry, what a mistake that would be to get him elected just as a protest. He was planning to turn it into a reality show. He is definitely not qualified to fill such big ====shoes! I wouldn’t want a person in office that I know can’t even take care of his own!!! Calls his own Mother a Bitch and his Dad a MotherF===er, and has threated him with knives, the police is alwaysat his place of residence Because of Him

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