Lt. Gov. candidate Eric Kearney of Cincinnati, left, greets Sandy Smith as he and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, center, enter Lucas County Democratic Party headquarters on Madison Avenue in Toledo.
Ohio Democratic candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald introduced his chosen running mate for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Eric Kearney (D., Cincinnati), to a crowd of Lucas County Democrats on Thursday night.
Mr. FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, on his third stop of the day with Mr. Kearney, after Cincinnati and Dayton, told a full house that he selected Mr. Kearney because he shares his values and can be governor, if needed. The two are running to unseat Republican Gov. John Kasich.
“I wanted somebody that agreed with me that we’ve got to put government back on the side of working families. I wanted somebody that still understood that it’s still tough to support a family and make a living here in Ohio. We’ve added virtually no jobs in the state of Ohio in the last year and a lot of the jobs that have been added have been minimum-wage, no-benefit jobs,” Mr. FitzGerald said.
Mr. Kearney pointed to state Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo) as part of his leadership team. He said that he will campaign for Mr. FitzGerald because of "the energy that he brings to the state of Ohio, his knowledge and empathy for working families, and his belief that education is the most important thing for Ohio's economy and Ohio families."
Mr. Kearney said as Cuyahoga County executive, Mr. FitzGerald has implemented universal prekindergarten education and a college savings plan.
Mr. Kearney, 51, a lawyer, was appointed to a Senate vacancy in 2005, and then elected in 2006 and 2010. He was elected minority leader of the Senate Democratic caucus in 2012. He and wife Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, also a lawyer, have two children, and they publish The Cincinnati Herald.
Mr. FitzGerald said Mr. Kearney was “one of the loudest and strongest voices” in the legislature against Senate Bill 5, a law passed by Republicans in 2011 to weaken the power of public employee unions. The law was repealed after a referendum campaign driven by Democrats and labor unions, who appear equally determined to oust Mr. Kasich in 2014.
In a question-and-comment period, Dal Lawrence, former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers union, said, “The last Ohio governor who paid attention to Toledo was Dick Celeste,” and challenged Mr. FitzGerald to appoint a Toledoan to a top spot in his administration if he is elected.
Mr. FitzGerald promised to have geographic diversity.
“There is talent all over Ohio and especially here in Toledo that I don’t think this governor has tapped into,” Mr. FitzGerald said. “This city didn’t just help build Ohio. This city helped build the country. There’s still a tremendous amount of talent here,” Mr. FitzGerald said.
He made it a point to include Toledo in the first day of his running mate’s introduction.
Russell Kamin, 60, of Toledo, a home health-care aide, said he will work to defeat Governor Kasich whom he accused of preventing his profession from having union representation and then undermining his salary and insurance coverage. He said he and his wife, Margaret, 45, can’t afford insurance because of their pre-existing conditions.
“He cut our wages by 26 percent to give to his rich cronies,” Mr. Kamin said.
Mr. FitzGerald thanked him for telling his story and said he has heard similar stories in other areas.
Ohio Republican Party Chris Schrimpf said under Mr. Kasich, Ohio has created more than 162,000 private sector jobs, including 40,000 this year, and that “Ohio wages are going up faster than the nation’s.”
He said Mr. Kasich has cut taxes by $2.7 billion, “benefiting all Ohioans.”
Republicans accuse Mr. FitzGerald of concealing from the county council for three weeks, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 7, the recent downgrade in the county’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s. Mr. FitzGerald said that’s inaccurate, and said Standard & Poor’s released its own report and that his administration was in the process of challenging inaccuracies in the report.
About 75 people turned out for the event at the party’s headquarters on Madison Avenue. Lucas County Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said he wanted a strong turnout to get past the bruised feelings of the primary campaign that pitted two Democrats against each other and ended without a Democrat on the 2013 mayoral general election ballot.
"My new slogan is we can't create a new future if we cling to the past," Mr. Rothenbuhler said.