It is a significant time for Democrats in Greater Cleveland as we attempt to motivate our base and return swing voters to our side. By working together, we can grow our Party’s strength and protect our Democracy.
I am asking for your support to be the next Cuyahoga County Democratic Party County Chair to follow my friend, Congresswoman Shontel Brown who is not seeking another term as Democratic Chair.
Consider my qualifications and how I’ll approach the role of Party Chair:
Experience - I have 30 years of professional campaign experience. I was first paid Democratic campaign staff in 1992. I worked in New Hampshire, Maryland, Michigan, South Dakota and Illinois. I was staff for EMILY’s List in two of those stops working for Pro-Choice female Democrats. My campaign experience allows me to better understand what political vendors are selling – and if it will work. But after being close to candidates for ten years, I decided to run myself in 2001 – and I won.
I have 20 years as a Democratic office holder. First as a Euclid School Board Member from 2002-2013. Currently, I am in my 4th term in the Ohio House of Representatives. In 2022, I am running for an open seat in the Ohio State Senate. The political spotlight is not new to me.
Results Driven - I was elected the Euclid City Democratic Leader in 2006. I ran for that office when the prior Democratic Leader began endorsing local Republicans. For the past 16 years, I have served as the Euclid City Democratic Leader. Working with Euclid’s Party activists, we have a track record of success. This past November, ALL our endorsed Democrats won election.
A Winning Strategy - To that end, a few months after Stuart Garson becoming Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair, he asked me how I was leading the Euclid Democrats. So, I thought about it, and I developed an 11-point plan to Rebuild Local Democratic Clubs (9 actions, 2 attitudes). This continues to be our approach in Euclid, and it still works. I believe we can use this model across our County to strengthen our local Clubs, partner with grassroots groups, grow activists and win elections.
Building The Bench - As a County Party, we should be doing more to equip our local candidates and develop our next generation of elected Democrats. I am a Candidate Trainer. I help train Democratic candidates across the Midwest on economic policy messaging through the political non-profit Rust Belt Rising. https://rustbeltrising.com/people
Grassroots Work Ethic - The best way to win votes is to meet people on their doorstep. I have knocked doors every election cycle (whether or not I was on the ballot) and will continue to do so as your next Party Chair. This is the same work ethic I demonstrate in Columbus. In three of my four terms in the Ohio House, I have never missed a vote.
Fundraising Best Practices - As a State Rep, I get to witness the best practice fundraising strategies and tactics of my Democratic colleagues. What I have seen is fundraising is not magic, it’s work. New technologies and tools should be maximized but there is no “secret sauce” - it’s about putting in the time to get results.
As County Party Chair, my plan is to get the attention of donors who are dedicated to positioning Democrats for success. The County Party can leverage better fundraising tactics and best practices – including professional digital outreach – to fund the type of operation and resources we need to not only get Democrats elected, but to turnout the kind of vote that we need change the direction of Ohio politics.
Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership - My commitment to diversity is not just lip service. I will create a leadership team that looks like our Democratic Party and the voters we seek to reach. We will welcome anyone who wants to work hard. If elected Chair, my choice for First Vice Chair of our Party is Mayor Kim Thomas of Richmond Heights.
Leadership is also about listening to local Democratic leaders about what works and what help they need. Kim Thomas and I are determined to work alongside local leaders to strengthen their Democratic Party efforts.
Better Engagement with the State Party – The advantage I have being in the Ohio General Assembly is my office is within 15 minutes of the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters. I can better coordinate with ODP because I am there every week.
Collaboration with Affiliate Groups - As a candidate, I have enjoyed strong support from many of our major Democratic affiliate groups. The Stonewall Democrats, the Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus, the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, the Northshore AFL-CIO and the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council have all endorsed me during my previous campaigns. Plus we should be working with the Indivisible groups, College Democrats, Young Democrats, African American Democratic organizations and others. Good relations with these and all other like-minded partners are critical as we grow our Party into the future.
Personal Party Loyalty - I have forsaken personal opportunity for the good of our Party. In 2012, I was the Ohio House Democratic Caucus choice to run for the open Kenny Yuko seat. But the 2012 Republican redistricting map cut up State Rep. Armond Budish’s House seat. I had a choice to make, run against the House Democratic Leader or let him run unopposed in the Primary to finish out his fourth term. I stepped back and supported his run for reelection.
That personal experience gives me the unique ability to help negotiate peace when two candidates have rival ambitions. I can honestly tell candidates to consider what is best for our Party as they make difficult personal and professional decisions.
But my Party loyalty is not limited to one significant decision made in 2012. In my 30 years of political life, I have not worked for or helped any Republican candidates. I have not raised money for any Republicans.
We need to win every election in Cuyahoga County. All of them. From Mayors to School Board to City Council to Judge to State House to State Senate to County Council to the County Executive. Every race matters.
Together, we can help turn Ohio blue by growing our victory total in Cuyahoga County. But this is not a task for only our next Party Chair. It is a shared responsibility, and its importance cannot be understated. Please join me in this journey. We can do it.
I welcome any constructive discussion about my plans for our Party. Feel free to email me at StateRepKentSmith@Gmail.com if you have any questions.
Euclid City Democrat Leader since 2006
Ohio State Representative for District 8 since 2015