The unintended consequences of cronyism and the downfall of the Montgomery County Democratic Party

For as long as I’ve been in Dayton, the Montgomery County Democratic Party has been the least “democratic” organization in town. Joe Shump ruled for years with a style more akin to a Russian Czar. When Dennis Lieberman took over, the old ways were hard to stop: closed door meetings, no active recruitment of ward and precinct captains- it was still run like a private club.

People got places because of who they knew and snuggled up to. People in power, tended to stay in power- so much so that many potential good leaders got disgusted and walked away (Victor Harris got snubbed for wanting to have the chance to run for State Rep against the insider Roland Winburn- Bill Littlejohn switched parties- and then handed out dummy voter cards with his picture next to every Democratic Candidate).

It worked for years thanks to the ability of the Party to use their get-out-the-vote (GOTV to political junkies) expertise to drive (literally and figuratively) the West Side to the polls. Now that they’ve suffered their first major defeat in grand fashion with the dethroning of their queen, Rhine McLin, there is a lot of finger pointing going on inside and outside the party.

The last putsch, just before the presidential election where Dayton Clerk of Courts, Mark Owens pushed Lieberman out was engineered by about a half-dozen people, none of whom have the skills needed to run a party effectively. They rose to power based on cronyism and believe that they rightfully deserve and are entitled to ultimate power. I’m not saying Lieberman was any more worthy, but as the machine had rolled so effectively for so long, people made assumptions and we all know what happens when you base decisions on assumptions.

The number of people who feel disconnected from the party is growing. The question of how much money did they sell out to Issue 3 for may be the wrecking ball to the Mark Owens short lived dynasty. People may not follow like sheep if they see that McLin gets left out of the gravy train that they’ve all been accustomed to (she needs a job for at least 3 years paying considerably more than the $50 odd K that she made in the State house to pad her pension) yet- it may be hard to place her due to thin budgets and her lack of credible skills.

The first step in the overthrow will be to identify who exactly belongs to the Montgomery County Democratic Party central committee, and who all the ward and precinct captains are (at least half are empty) and start finding people to fill the uncontested seats and others to run against the entrenched good ole boy network (that includes quite a few women).

Don’t expect to see this covered anywhere but here. The Dayton Daily News editorial page editor, Ellen Belcher is best friends with one of the people at the “top” of this failing organization. However, seeing as they’ve lost the faith, trust and respect of quite a few of the most powerful people who have been elected thanks to the old regime, don’t expect them to stay silent now that the once mighty machine has shown it has major cracks in it. Also, don’t expect the State party to look favorably on the loss of a Mayorship, or the support of Issue 3. They still keep score at the State level, and have a governors race to win. If the party can’t deliver a Mayor, someone will be looking for help delivering Montgomery County for a Governor who isn’t looking too solid right now.

I’ll be publishing the list of precinct captains once I get it- along with a Google Maps precinct mashup thanks to one of my readers to make it easier to determine where you live. We’ll see if we can recruit a force to bring democracy to the democratic party- even if it has to come kicking and screaming.

Viva la revolution!

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