Looking Back, Moving Forward

7 mins read

Dear Friends,

As we mark the first day of 2021 and my final day as Ohio Democratic Party chair, I write to express my profound gratitude for the honor of serving in this role and your support throughout my tenure. It was the privilege of a lifetime to be part of so many inspiring efforts at all levels and to get to know and partner with so many public servants and advocates across the state.

Over the past six years — in the face of considerable headwinds — we have accomplished much when it comes to building a strong party. Here are just a few of the highlights of what we achieved together:

  • We won significant electoral victories, including re-electing U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to a rare third term by nearly 7 percentage points, flipping three Ohio Supreme Court seats in two cycles (our highest level since 1994) and securing our first statehouse flips of the decade with a new generation of strong, diverse candidates.
  • By pushing for voters to vote all the way through their ballot, Democrats have also fundamentally reshaped Ohio’s judiciary at a moment that could not be more timely, given the new U.S. Supreme Court. Beyond our recent Ohio Supreme Court wins, in 2021, Democratic judges will hold the majority of seats at Ohio’s appellate level. In addition, this past year we achieved sweeping wins at the county level in many of our large and swing counties.
  • As part of our Main Street Initiative, we’ve built and deepened our bench, winning offices across the state — large cities, suburbs and smaller towns and townships alike.
  • From our Supreme Court wins on down, our candidates and officeholders reflect the great diversity of our state, party and communities more than ever before. To us, achieving greater representation has been as important as the victories themselves.
  • We fought a years-long, focused battle to rid Ohio of the scourge of gerrymandering, playing a key role in two successful Constitutional Amendments and then ensuring we finally have an independent Supreme Court to safeguard those anti-gerrymandering reforms (along with many other fundamental rights).
  • Working with Democratic officials and grassroots activists across the state and nation, we helped save the Affordable Care Act and preserved the health care law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Medicaid expansion and much more.
  • We stood up for voting rights and won key victories in court and in the legislature, opening the door to important reforms in future elections without requiring legislative action.
  • In community after community, local Democratic officials have enacted progressive policies like expanding pre-K, outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ+ Ohioans and declaring racism to be a public health crisis. In addition, wins in prosecutor and judicial races across the state and at every level will have enormous consequences for reforming our broken criminal justice system and keeping the right-wing Ohio Statehouse in check.

None of this would have been possible without your tireless efforts and generous support over the years. Please click here to read more about our policy victories and historic wins — including the first African-American Democratic candidate elected statewide, the first Nepali-Bhutanese candidate elected in the country and the first LGBTQ+ sheriff elected in Ohio.


As the party’s executive committee considers the selection of a new chair, the party will be in the very capable hands of my friend and partner in leadership, Vice Chair Rhine McLin, beginning tomorrow. It has been a delight working with her over the past six years. We will then assure a smooth transition to whoever the committee selects as the party’s next chair. I look forward to seeing and supporting my successor’s new vision and ideas.

Like all of you, I could not be more excited to see President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — both good and decent people and public servants — in the White House this month. Despite all of 2020’s challenges, in the long arc of history, I believe we will look back on it as the year that we saved our democracy. Whether you live in a red or blue state, politics is a team sport, and you all played a role in that historic victory.

But especially at this fraught time, we desperately need compassionate and competent leaders to lead us. With our new leadership in the White House, I am hopeful that in 2021 we will defeat the coronavirus pandemic, get our economy back on track, invest in communities and workers across our state who have been left behind, and hold officials accountable for protecting Black lives, among many other priorities.

I look forward to continuing to play a role in this work.

Thank you again and best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy and healthy new year,


David Pepper
Ohio Democratic Party




Photo by Angela Hobbs on Unsplash

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The people of Ohio deserve a government that supports their hard work and shares their hopes for the future. Our platform represents the Democratic vision for our State, embracing and implementing the dreams of Ohioans. We firmly defend these American beliefs, values, and traditions and are fighting hard every day to elect Democrats who have the experience and ideas to improve our state and who will hold Columbus accountable.

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