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Top Biden adviser likes how Ohio is shaping up for his man

By Randy Ludlow 
The Columbus Dispatch - August 19, 2020, Posted at 1:36 PM, Updated at 3:32 PM

The Ohioan who ran Joe Biden’s presidential campaign until May likes how his man is pairing up against Donald Trump in Ohio.

Barely.

“If the election was today, we’d win it barely, but we would win it,” Greg Schultz said of Ohio during a virtual gathering of the state’s delegates to the virtual Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.

Despite Trump’s 8-percentage-point win over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, the senior adviser to Biden and his campaign sees the state as winnable for the former vice president come Nov. 3.

Higher Black turnout, peeling off some blue-collar workers who went for Trump four years ago and stoking an advantage in suburbs that are increasingly turning blue could put Ohio in Biden’s win column, Schultz said.

Polling shows Biden faring better with Ohioans than Clinton did in 2016, said Schultz, an Ohio State University graduate who served as a special assistant to two-term President Barack Obama.

Biden is leading in all-important Ohio suburbs by 15 percentage points and, in reversing Clinton’s showing, is up 5 points with seniors, he said.

Ohio remains a battleground state, with Biden better positioned than Clinton due to lessons learned, a stronger infrastructure and better coordination of national, state and local parties, Schultz said.

Schultz noted some Democrats were upset that former two-term Ohio Gov. John Kasich scored convention time Monday evening to deliver his endorsement of Biden while denouncing Trump as a divider.

But Kasich and other Republicans could prove important, Schultz said.

Winning a couple of percentage points’ worth of disaffected Republicans and GOP-leaning independents could help Biden win Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and thus the White House, he said.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the first openly gay man to run for a major-party presidential nomination, also addressed the online gathering of Democrats.

“We cannot go on like this, not with this kind of division, not with this kind of chaos,” he said of Trump, calling him “a president who is not committed to democracy itself.”

Biden, he said, will “restore decency and compassion to the Oval Office.”

“This is about everyday life, and don’t let the commentary and noise distract you ... it’s about whether America will, in fact, stand up for those values that have defined America at its best.”

Another one-time Democratic presidential candidate, billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer, spent millions of his fortune building a case to impeach Trump. At the virtual gathering, Steyer said: “Ohio is definitively in play in 2020” amid all the crises, including COVID-19 and an economic downturn.

Asked on a separate Zoom call with reporters whether Ohio remains a swing state, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said, “There’s no doubt that Ohio’s getting increasingly more difficult for Democrats to win. ... But Ohio’s winnable.”

He thinks the Buckeye State will go for Biden this year because Ohioans can more readily identify with him than with Trump.

“We’re going to win Ohio because voters are going to make the contrast for who’s on your side,” Brown said.

With political control of the Ohio Supreme Court at stake this fall, the online event also featured the party’s pair of candidates — 10th District Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Brunner and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell.

The pair is opposing Republican incumbents, with Brunner running against Justice Judith French and O’Donnell taking on Justice Sharon Kennedy. Wins by the Democrats would give them 4-3 control of the court; Republicans have held the majority since 1987.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said party polling shows Brunner with a 12-percentage-point lead and O’Donnell with an 8-point advantage.

Dispatch Public Affairs Editor Darrel Rowland contributed to this story.

ludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow


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