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Former Democratic party chair questions direction of state party

In an e-mail circulated among Ohio news reporters, Ruvolo said he was “appalled” that Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper told the Cincinnati Enquirer last week that Sittenfeld — a Cincinnati city councilman — should focus more on curbing crime in Cincinnati.

“I am ticked off about it,” said Ruvolo in telephone interview. “Whether you think P.G. should be running or not, he has a right to run. He’s an attractive, young candidate in a party that has a dearth of those.”

“It crosses the line,” said Ruvolo, saying the state party should not have endorsed Strickland, 73, over Sittenfeld, 30. “But they did. This has all been about somebody pulling the strings on David Pepper to get him to endorse Strickland first and get P.G. out of the race.”

Ruvolo did not elaborate on who was “pulling the strings.” But he plans to hold a conference call Thursday with reporters from across the state.

“That isn’t the role of the party chairman,” said Ruvolo, who chaired the state party from 1983 through 1991. “The role of the party chairman is to build the party and beat the Republicans.”

Ruvolo’s e-mail and subsequent interview is the most vivid sign of the simmering tensions between Democrats who directed the party during the 1980s and those who have run the party for much of the past decade, such as Chris Redfern. Redfern stepped down at the end of last year after Democrats lost every non-judicial statewide race in the November election.

Since Bernie is 72, I can't object to Strickland on the grounds that he is 73. But the Ohio Democratic establishment is clearly keen to shut out P.G.Sittenfeld. If Sittenfeld is such a weak candidate, why not just run a primary and let him fade as weak candidates do?

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