By Brittany Cook
NEW RIEGEL - Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern spoke about the Democratic Party's need to defend its beliefs at the 58th annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner Thursday.
Redfern said the party was right on the issues as evidenced by the past presidential elections. He said President Barack Obama has won Ohio twice with more than 50 percent of the vote. He said only two other Democratic presidents have done that - Franklin D. Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson.
"This tells you that we're right about these issues," he said.
He also said it was time for Democrats to stand up and defend their beliefs on issues.
"I want you to remind (Republicans) that elections have consequences," he said. "Barack Obama ran on the notion that health care is a right, not a privilege. And now, today, in Ohio, those who did not have the same access the day before Barack Obama took the oath have it."
Redfern said that although Republicans say the health care website is "messy," it is worth the time to sign up for the program.
"Like sitting on the website for an hour trying to get access to health care for your family that generationally, you have never had isn't worth the time," he said. "(Republicans) have spent four years trying to stop what has been embraced in this state, and they will say that we ought to repeal Obamacare because we've got a bad website."
Redfern also cited the Tea Party movement for support of Gov. John Kasich and the loss of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.
"Had it not been for a few months in 2010 and the Tea Party movement, we would not have had to endure the last three years of John Kasich's policies that strip away core supports for public schools," he said. "Had we not as Democrats in 2010 allowed ourselves to rest, then Ted Strickland would have made up the difference of 77,000 votes."
He said Democratic Party must look to the future and that the party had done it before when Senate Bill 5 was repealed.
"The people of this state rose up just a year after John Kasich won, and by an overwhelming 65 percent to 35 percent margin, we repealed Senate Bill 5," he said. "And we won that race in 2011, the largest turnout for a referendum election in the history of this state."
He also spoke about Kasich's history as a congressman and his votes to repeal Medicaid for able bodied adults in the 1990s.
"Flashforward about 20 years, the governor of the state of Ohio believes that we should expand Medicaid," he said. "You cannot, out of one side of your mouth, say that you are for Medicaid and out of the other side of your mouth say 'I will not stand in the way of my Republican friends who will then in the legislature strip away those core supports for the weakest among us.' You can't have it both ways."
He also spoke about the Controlling Board's vote this week to expand Medicaid.
"I happen to be on the Controlling Board," he said. "I was one of the five. There are 11.5 million people in the state and I had the chance to vote to expand health care for 366,000."
"Let us continue to move forward and not look back," he said. "Let us continue to do what is right for the people who live in this great city and this great country."
He also spoke about gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and the positions he has held in Lakewood and Cuyahoga County, including becoming the first county executive.
"Some of you may know up in Cuyahoga County, there's been some corruption, there's been some scandal. A few folks that had been invested with power took advantage of that investment, and now find themselves in federal prison," he said. "The fellow that cleaned that mess up is running for governor of this state."
"There's work to be done," he said. "And together, we can make it happen."
Also, recognized for their services to the party were longtime members Marguerite Bernard and Joe Granata.