Raymond LembkeThe November 2019 general election is largely over apart from a few potential recounts.  Congratulations go out to our winners in Clermont County, Emily Chesnut – Milford Board of Education, Kyle Mitchell – Milford City Council, Nancy Davis – Felicity Village Council, Jason Garrison – Batavia Village Council and Leo Bradley – Clermont County Educational Service Center.

Locally the 2019 election sounded the death knell for two Clermont County villages.  Voters in both Amelia and Newtonsville voted to dissolve their villages. Less than half of the registered voters in each village cast a ballot on whether their villages should continue to exist.  Overall voter turnout in the county was just under 25%.  About 13% of voters cast their ballots either by early in-person voting or by mailing in an absentee ballot.

Nationally, the big news was the Democrats won majorities in both branches of the Virginia state legislature and Democrat Andy Beshear defeated incumbent Republican Matt Bevin for the governorship of Kentucky.  This may be significant because Bevin stopped just short of claiming to be trump’s biological clone in his effort to hang onto office.

What does all this mean for us?  I was listening to an interview of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker on CNN radio. Senator Booker’s interpretation of the election results was Democrats should not simply concede any race or office to the Republicans.  Senator Booker suggested the aversion many long-time Republicans feel towards trump creates opportunities for Democrats in places where we’ve historically done poorly.

In Clermont County, we Democrats are conceding almost everything to the Republicans.  I said almost. I want to thank Jeff Richards and Richard Perry who have stepped up to contest the two seats up for Clermont County Commissioner in 2020, Alan Darnowsky who is running for Ohio House District 65 and Acacia Uible who is running for Clermont County Clerk of Courts. However, there are still many offices we can contest in 2020. With the deadline for filing nominating petitions a month away, we have no candidates for County Treasurer, County Recorder, County Engineer, County Prosecutor, Sheriff, Coroner, or, perhaps most important, for the Ohio House of Representatives for District 66.

I’ve spoken with a number of people about running for office.  The reasons for not running are varied.  Underlying them all, however, is the belief that a Democrat has no chance in any of these races.  A similar belief prevailed in Virginia. Kentucky is considered a solidly Republican state. However, Virginia flipped its state legislature and Kentucky replaced a Republican governor with a reasonable Democrat.

2020 presents us with some advantageous circumstances. Voter turnout will probably be the largest we have seen in Clermont County in many years.  Many voters will be turning out to vote against donald trump.  Kentucky showed us that even trump voters can be persuaded to vote for Democrats for other offices.  Both Ohio State House seats are open seats, the incumbents cannot run again.  We’re not likely to see circumstances this favorable again for many years.

Another advantage for local Democrats is Clermont County Republicans are certainly not spotless.  Just a few weeks ago, a former Republican County Commissioner and County Party Chair pled guilty to tampering with official records.  Earlier in the year, the Republican County Engineer pled guilty to using county personnel and resources for personal and political benefit.  This summer, the three Republican County Commissioners agreed to pay a member of the County Republican Executive Committee approximately $ 150,000 in tax dollars because the County Commission had violated their fellow Republican’s federal constitutional rights.

Running local candidates in 2020 also helps to defeat donald trump.  Yes, there will be a campaign organization for whoever is our presidential nominee.  Those people, from Columbus, Cleveland, or out of state, don’t know Clermont County like we do.  When we’re out knocking on doors and attending festivals in our own towns, we’re building the local Democratic brand.  When we put forward quality Democratic candidates for local offices we make it easier for voters to also vote for a Democrat for president.

We say that Clermont County needs a real two-party system; that Clermont County politics needs to be competitive.  It takes more than one player to have a competition.  We can’t make Clermont County competitive if we stay on the sidelines.  Wishing won’t make it happen.  2020 is the year.  We need people to run for office and the rest of us need to support them.  To paraphrase an old high school cheer:  What do we need? Democrats!  When do we need them?  Now!