Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive who hopes to gain the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. John Kasich this year, said he will announce his choice of a running mate today, but would not confirm that it will be Dayton-area lawyer Sharen Neuhardt.
The Blade has learned that Ms. Neuhardt, 62, of Yellow Springs, Greene County, will be Mr. FitzGerald’s choice for lieutenant governor.
Mr. FitzGerald told The Blade that his campaign would make the announcement today. Campaign sources told The Blade that a public appearance by the two is planned for Dayton on Saturday.
Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive who hopes to gain the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. John Kasich this year, today announced his choice of Dayton-area lawyer Sharen Neuhardt as running mate.
Mr. FitzGerald identified Ms. Neuhardt, 62, of Yellow Springs, Greene County, after word leaked of the selection to run with him on the May 6 primary ballot.
In an email to fundraisers Mr. FitzGerald said Ms. Neuhardt was the first in her family to go to college and went on to become a successful business attorney.
"She is a steadfast champion of women’s health and shares my outrage at the current Governor’s attempt to dictate to women what should be private medical decisions and restrict access to critical health care services," he wrote.
Mr. FitzGerald told The Blade that a public appearance by the two is planned for Dayton on Saturday.
BLADE SLICES BLOG: FitzGerald confirms in fund-raising email he picked Neuhardt
Ms. Neuhardt helped lead a rally on Statehouse steps last year in opposition to legislation seen as restricting access to abortions. The bill was signed into law by Mr. Kasich and is expected to be one of the pillars of the Democratic campaign this year along with arguments that Kasich policies have favored the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
Ms. Neuhardt failed twice in bids for Congress in Republican districts, first against then-U.S. Rep. Steve Austria, of the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, in 2008, and then later against current U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, of Dayton, after redistricting eliminated Mr. Austria’s district and put Greene County in Mr. Turner’s district.
She also briefly explored running for Ohio secretary of state in 2010, a seat that ultimately went Republican along with all other statewide offices.
Ms. Neuhardt would be Mr. FitzGerald’s second choice. His first, state Sen. Eric Kearney (D., Cincinnati), an African-American attorney and co-owner of a publishing company, was on the ticket for three weeks before stepping down in December after disclosing more than $800,000 in unpaid business and personal tax liens.
Mr. FitzGerald, who has been criticized as being disconnected from the black community, has worked hard to demonstrate support within the black community. He won the endorsement Thursday of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who is black.
Prospective primary rival Todd Portune, a Hamilton County commissioner, has blistered FitzGerald for an “appalling” lack of commitment to blacks.
Ms. Neuhardt is white.
Mr. FitzGerald and other Democratic candidates have blasted Mr. Kasich and fellow legislative Republicans for adding provisions to the state budget passed last year making it tougher for abortion clinics to keep their licenses and requiring more steps by doctors before an abortion may be performed.
Former state Democratic Chairman Jim Ruvolo of Lucas County said he was not part of the selection process.
“What’s important is that she doesn’t hurt the ticket. That’s what’s important. People don’t vote for lieutenant governor. It only matters if it hurts you. The Eric Kearney thing was not good, but there’s plenty of time to recover,” Mr. Ruvolo said.
Ohio Republican spokesman Chris Schrimpf jumped on the news about Mr. FitzGerald’s running mate as “the third-string backup to his original choice, which only reinforces what we learned two months ago, that he simply doesn't have what it takes to lead a state."
He said that current Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor will be Governor Kasich’s running mate.
The deadline for candidates to submit 1,000 signatures for the May 6 primary is 4 p.m. Feb. 5.
Mr. FitzGerald is expected in Toledo Tuesday for a fund-raising event.
Columbus Bureau Chief Jim Provance contributed to this report.
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