Susan Gwinn checked her e-mail dozens of times on March 23. Each time, she watched the Ohio Democratic Party slump a little further into its own grave.
The deadline was fast approaching for Ohio Democrats to challenge a new law that could give Republicans a permanent majority. While the state party did virtually nothing, Gwinn and a handful of activists organized a petition campaign to repeal House Bill 1. The law bans unions from donating to campaigns; allows corporate donations; and means that a wealthy, married person with two children can give $80,000 in a single year.
"That's not campaign reform," says Eugene Grande, president of Wayne County's Democratic Party. "That's campaign skulduggery."
Instead of fighting it, however, the party did what it so often does: cast urgent messages into the black computer void, hoping that someone else does something.
"It was frightening to watch, really," says Gwinn, president of the Athens County Democratic Party. "I remember thinking, 'My goodness. How can this be happening?'