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Democratic state lawmaker considering run for governor

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Eric Fingerhut

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COLUMBUS - State Sen. Eric Fingerhut announced yesterday that he is exploring a bid to be the Democratic nominee in next year's governor's race.

Mr. Fingerhut's decision to form an exploratory committee to consider a run comes two days after Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman withdrew from the race.

"I feel very strongly that winning this election requires having the clearest understanding of what is the challenge in the economy in the state of Ohio and the clearest and best vision for how to create jobs and opportunity in the future," said Mr. Fingerhut, a one-term congressman who has represented a Cleveland district in the state Senate since 1999.

A year ago, Mr. Fingerhut captured just 36 percent of the vote in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. George Voinovich.

John McClelland, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said there's "no reason to believe" that Mr. Fingerhut would win more support next year if he decides to run.

"Senator Fingerhut already ran a statewide campaign in the last election and lost all 88 counties," he said. "It's fair to say he wasn't well-received by Ohio voters."

Mr. Fingerhut said his Senate campaign could be a "huge plus" to a potential gubernatorial bid because Ohio voters will be more familiar with him this time around.

"It takes the public awhile to get to know the candidates," Mr. Fingerhut said. "That's why historically many of the candidates who ended up being successful ... lost their first time out."

Mr. Fingerhut would join U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland and Bryan Flannery, a former state legislator, as contestants for the Democratic nomination. The leading Republican candidates include Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, Auditor Betty Montgomery, and Attorney General Jim Petro.

Contact Steve Eder at:

seder@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.

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