Chris Redfern is the current chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. He won election to the chairmanship of the Ohio Democratic Party in December 2005 and was reelected in 2008 and again in 2012. He was previously a Democratic State Representative for Ohio House District 80 and had been a member of the Ohio House since 1999. During the 2012 general election, he was again elected to serve as State Representative for the newly drawn 89th District.
Before becoming party chairman, he was the Minority Leader in the Ohio House of Representatives. During Mr. Redfern’s term as Minority Leader, he was the first Democratic Leader to oversee multiple gains in the Ohio House of Representatives (during the 2004 election) since former Speaker of the Ohio House Vern Riffe. Mr. Redfern was also an Ottawa County commissioner from 1993 to 1999 – the youngest in the state when his term began in 1993.
Central to Chairman Redfern’s success has been the “88-County Strategy” which recognizes that Democrats win by competing for votes in every area of Ohio, metropolitan or micropolitan, industrial or agricultural, urban or rural.
The strategy bore fruit immediately in 2006 with the election of Governor Ted Strickland and Senator Sherrod Brown, whose victories proved that Democrats could compete in any region of the state. Chris Redfern led the Ohio Democratic Party into key municipal elections, capturing the Canton mayor’s office for the first time in sixteen years and helping to elect the first African American mayor in the history of Mansfield, Ohio.
In 2008, Chairman Redfern set the party’s sights on the general election and began constructing the largest field operation ever envisioned by a state political party. Together, the Campaign for Change and the Ohio Democratic Party registered 105,862 new Ohio voters and engaged in 3,552,486 conversations with Ohioans at their doors or on the phone. Fueling these record-breaking figures were the efforts of more than 60,000 committed volunteers from neighborhoods across Ohio. On Election Day, Ohio Democrats delivered a decisive victory for Barack Obama and picked up three new congressional seats. Democrats also captured the Ohio House on a legislative map drawn by state Republicans, a feat never before seen in Ohio history.
Following a disappointing national Republican wave in 2010, Chairman Redfern led Ohio Democrats back to victory in 2012 by championing one of the largest campaign investments in Ohio’s history. Between the Ohio Democratic Party and the President’s Ohio campaign, Democrats made an unprecedented 16,261,643 attempts to talk to Ohio voters from more than 170 field offices, staffed by more than 750 paid employees and tens of thousands of volunteers across the state. On Election Night, Chairman Redfern’s gamble paid off as Barack Obama made history to become the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1940 to carry more than fifty percent of Ohio voters’ support twice.
Ohio Democrats’ early investment was also successful for Senator Sherrod Brown who was able to overcome an unprecedented $40 million dollars spent against him in attack ads in part because of the infrastructure his campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party put in place. Despite a redistricting period controlled by the opposing party where three Democratic State House incumbent seats were eliminated, Ohio Democrats also won races that were supposed to be out of reach, and overcame a 3-1 financial disadvantage to re-elect Lou Gentile to the State Senate. And for the first time in 12 years, Democrats won a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Chairman Redfern attended Bowling Green State University where he earned both a Bachelor’s Degree and then his Master’s Degree in state and local government. He received the BGSU Accomplished Graduate Award in 2004. Redfern is married to his wife Kim and they live with their daughter on Catawba Island.