No Republican has ever won the U.S. presidential election
without carrying Ohio. In 2016 President Trump continued
that trend by handily defeating Hillary Clinton in the state
by a whopping eight percentage points. However, if local
Democratic Party leadership can win over suburban voters, a
demographic historically loyal to Republicans, the Dems can
reclaim Ohio in the 2020 general election.
I caught up with attorney Keith L. Mitchell, who is bidding
to become chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party. In
this article we discuss his candidacy, thoughts on taking
the Dems in a new direction, and how to make Ohio relevant
again in state and national politics.
Perryman: Letís chat about
your candidacy for the chairmanship of the Lucas County
Mitchell: Well, sure. We
have between six and 15 days after the certification of the
primary election to have this reorganization meeting. So,
weíll see what happens.
Perryman: What is the state
of the Lucas County Democratic Party as it exists now?
Mitchell: Weíre in
transition. Unfortunately, weíre in a transition during a
national election, but here we are. Kurt Young was doing a
decent job but decided not to run again, so Iím running.
Perryman: What is your
assessment of the Partyís effectiveness, culture, goals, and
stance on the issues?
Mitchell: I have five
primary goals. First, to elect Democrats. The purpose of a
Democratic Party is to elect Democrats and so, certainly, we
need to energize the Party in Lucas County. Lucas County is
vital to Ohio and Ohio is essential to the United States,
and so, we need to do our part to make sure that we come out
and vote for Joe Biden and all the people down the ticket.
Secondly, we need to
energize the Central Committee, the precinct committee
people. We need to give them the tools and training and get
them to be very active. The Party has not done a good job
of that in the past. People need to go door to door in their
precinct to let voters know which Democrats are running and
encourage people to come out and vote. So, itís imperative,
first of all, to encourage Democrats to come out, secondly
to help people if they are not registered to vote to get
them registered and to motivate them to vote in the future.
So, not just around election time, but all year long.
Perryman: And third?
Mitchell: Third, I want to
get young people involved. We need to get young people in
leadership positions because itís time to pass the baton. I
have gray hair, Iím old, and this is not my dream job, so we
need to get young people involved in the Party and
decision-making positions and let them take over.
Fourth, I want to make
sure that we start or better utilize data-driven
strategies. We need to use Facebook and other social media
platforms more effectively. Young folks donít watch regular
television, so TV ads donít make a difference in terms of
voting. They donít read the newspaper like people used to,
so ads in the press donít make sense for elections, and so
we have to use social media a lot better, and certainly, I
hope to do that.
And then lastly, we need
to find a Party home. We need to purchase an office
building that suits our needs. Itís my understanding that
ProMedica wants to buy our building to tear it down so that
they can build apartment buildings. Those are the five
areas that I want to focus on and I think Iím the best
person for the job.
Perryman: The goals are
laudable, but how do you effectuate the goals and get them
Mitchell: By getting
people involved and holding them accountable. In the past
we have not done a good job of encouraging people and making
sure that precinct people do their jobs, so we need to make
sure that happens. We also need to broaden the base of our
financial support. We have depended on the unions a lot and
we certainly still want to depend on unions, but we want to
broaden the base so that everybodyís contributing. Precinct
people, executive committee members, clubs and
organizations, elected officials, all folks need to donate
to the Party so that we can help get Democrats elected. So,
I think itís a matter of motivating people, getting them
engaged and energized. Again, I think we can do that behind
Joe Biden. And, I would venture to say, all Democrats want
to get Donald Trump out so I think we can get people
energized to do that.
Perryman: What are your
qualifications to become chairman of the Lucas County
Mitchell: Iíve been active
with the Party for many years. I worked on Senator Howard
Metzenbaumís campaign in the late Ď80s, so Iíve been
involved in local politics for a long time. Iím currently
the parliamentarian and, therefore, chair of the bylaws
committee. I have sat on the screening committee and chaired
the judicial screening committee, so Iíve been active in
many of the Partyís committees. Iíve also been a precinct
committee person for eight years now, so Iíve been active in
the Party, and know the inner workings and know what needs
to be done to get people out to vote.
Perryman: How about
participated in several different campaigns. Iím currently
the finance chair for Judge Myron Duhartís campaign. So Iíve
certainly had experience raising money with different
political contests. The Party has various fundraisers, and
Iíve attended them, but I have not organized those for the
Perryman: So, why Keith
Mitchell and not Mike Ashford for Party Chair?
Mitchell: I have the
temperament to bring people together. The first question
Iím going to ask before making any decision is Ďwhatís in
the best interest of the Party?í. Every decision you make
will upset some people, but I will be able to articulate the
decision and why particular decisions are being made a
certain way. Iím not in this to make friends; Iím in it to
move the Party forward. I think Iím in a better position
than Mr. Ashford to bring people together. Iím not
divisive. I believe that I can do that better than he can.
Perryman: Do you have any
endorsements so far?
Mitchell: No, I have not
been asking for endorsements, Iíve been calling people on
the Central Committee, those people that vote, and asking
for their support and thatís been very positive so far, Iím
continuing to do that.
Perryman: Is there anything
you would like to add?
Mitchell: Iíve been
practicing law for 32 years here in Toledo, but again, Iíve
been active with the Party, and I think that is important
for this particular position that Iím seeking. You donít
have to be an attorney, obviously, but that gives me the
flexibility to do what I need to do. Being Party chair is
not a paid position; you have to meet at all times during
the day, the week, evenings, and on weekends. My practice
allows me the flexibility to do that.
And again, I think Iím
best qualified for the position. Iím hoping the people on
the central committee will vote for me because we need to
get Democrats elected, and the Party needs to become
galvanized and energized so that we can move forward.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at