Chris Redfern

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Chris Redfern
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 89th district
In office
January 2, 2013-December 31, 2014
Preceded by Dennis Murray
Succeeded by Steve Kraus
In office
September 8, 1999-December 31, 2008
Preceded by Darrell Opfer
Succeeded by Dennis Murray
Personal details
Political party Democratic

Chris Redfern (born 1964, South Bend, Indiana) is an American politician, former state representative in Ohio, and former chair 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 before resigning in December 2014. 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.[1]

Political career[edit]

Redfern is the only Ohio Democratic Party Chairman on record to have served as chairman when the Democratic Party won gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and presidential elections.[2] In 2008, The Columbus Dispatch wrote:"Democrats made history -- marking the first time a party that did not draw the district lines was ever able to take control of the House chamber."[3] Following President Barack Obama's successful 2012 re-election, Redfern became the only State Party Chairman in Ohio's history to help a Democratic presidential candidate carry Ohio twice with more than 50% of the vote.[4] Since taking office in late 2005, Redfern has helped raise more than $100,000,000 for Ohio Democrats.[5][6]

Before becoming party chairman, he was the Minority Leader in the Ohio House of Representatives.[7] During 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.[8] Redfern was also an Ottawa County commissioner from 1993 to 1999 - the youngest in the state when his term began in 1993.

In 2008, Redfern set the party’s sights on the general election and began constructing the largest field operation ever envisioned by a state political party.[citation needed] 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 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 national Republican wave in 2010, 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, Redfern's gamble paid off as Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1940 to carry more than fifty percent of Ohio voters' support twice.[9]

Ohio Democrats' early investment was also successful for Senator Sherrod Brown who was able to overcome an unprecedented $40 million 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.

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 lives on Catawba Island and in 2014 opened Rocky Point Winery in Marblehead, a boutique winery and inn specializing in Lake Erie region wines.[10]


At a September 20, 2010 Democratic Party event hosted by the United Steelworkers, Redfern was caught on a WTOV-TV camera using a derogatory term in referring to opponents of the health care law saying, "It's in the very base terms we win these arguments. Every time one of these fuckers says, excuse my language..." Redfern later remarked that he thought the camera was off. "The reporter was working her BlackBerry and the photographer was standing away from his camera, but I guess it was on."[11][12]

During the 2014 campaign, the Ohio Democratic Party, under Redfern's leadership, came under criticism for being in disarray. Republican Gov. John Kasich, once seen as one of the most vulnerable Republican governors in the 2014 elections, was easily re-elected over Cuyahoga County commissioner Ed FitzGerald.

Redfern resigned the following month.


  1. ^ Blade Staff. "Redfern wins Ohio House Seat". The Toledo Blade. November 2012
  2. ^ "Ohio Election Results". Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Dems wrest back control of Ohio House". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Chris Redfern says Obama the first Dem in 75 years to get two majority wins for president in Ohio". PolitiFact Ohio. 
  5. ^ "FEC Committee Viewer". Federal Election Commission. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Campaign Finance Search". Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Williamson, Dan. "Nice guys finish last." Columbus Monthly. May 2007
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Tipping the Scale: A Look Inside the Ohio Democratic Party's Decisive Wins". Ohio Democratic Party. Retrieved 2012-11-26. [dead link]
  10. ^ "About Us". The Redfern Inn at Rocky Point Winery. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 25, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2010. 
  12. ^
Preceded by
Dean DePiero
Minority Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives Democratic Caucus
Succeeded by
Joyce Beatty
Preceded by
Denny White
Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party
as of December 2005–December 2014
Succeeded by
David A. Pepper