In the wake of a resounding Republican victory on Nov. 8, Democrats in Ohio are reeling from the loss but focusing on the future.
“Of course we have to dust off and rebuild to win elections in 2017, 2018 and 2020,” David Pepper, chairman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said in a press release. “One piece of good news is that thousands of people were passionately involved in this past election, so there remains a strong, durable infrastructure from 2016 which we can now build upon, and that we can only make stronger for future years.”
In the United States legislature, which was won by Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Democratic members are avidly speaking out against President-elect Donald Trump and his administration. One hundred and sixty-nine Democrats from the House signed a letter addressed to Trump condemning his choice of Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist.
All four of Ohio’s Democratic representatives — Joyce Beatty, Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan — signed the letter, which called on Trump to rescind his offer to Bannon.
“Immediately following your victory, many Americans were optimistic and hopeful that you would take the steps necessary to unify our country following the divisive and contentious election,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, your appointment of Stephen Bannon, whose ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well-documented, directly undermines your ability to unite the country.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also condemned Bannon’s appointment, pointing to Bannon’s history as the editor of alt-right news publication Breitbart News.
“This is not about a difference in policy or politics — Steve Bannon has promoted anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic and dangerous views that have emboldened white nationalist forces and caused some Americans to question whether they can still feel safe in the country we all love,” Brown said.
Also representing Ohio in the U.S. House, Ryan announced on Thursday that he would challenge current House Minority Leader and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the minority leader spot.
“I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working,” Ryan wrote in a letter to his colleagues.
Elections for Democratic Party leadership in the House were delayed to Nov. 30 in the aftermath of the general election. Pelosi has held the most senior Democratic role in the House since 2003. She did not express concern over whether Ryan may beat her in the election, stating that she has over two-thirds of the democratic caucus behind her.
But Ryan thinks his appeal to a need for new leadership will help his efforts.
“We have lost over 60 seats since 2010,” Ryan said. “We have the fewest Democrats in state and federal offices since Reconstruction. At this time of fear and disillusionment, we owe it to our constituencies to listen and bring a new voice into leadership.”
The Ohio legislature maintained its GOP majority, gaining two seats in the Ohio House of Representatives and one seat in the Ohio Senate. In the State Senate, Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, was unseated by Republican competitor Frank Hoagland. Gentile had been in the legislature since 2010.
The Democrats now hold 33 of the 99 seats in the Ohio House and 9 out of 33 seats in the Ohio Senate.