Portune decides against run for Ohio governor


Toledo Councilman Jack Ford’s run for Ohio lieutenant governor ended before it started.

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who had picked Mr. Ford as his running mate, said Friday he has decided against seeking the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor.

Mr. Portune and Mr. Ford met Wednesday night at a Lima restaurant to discuss teaming up, but the former Toledo mayor and former minority leader of the state House of Representatives never said whether he would join the campaign.

Mr. Portune’s decision to end his candidacy left the field to Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who already had a huge advantage in fund-raising and in endorsements from the Ohio Democratic Party. The filing deadline to appear on the May 6 primary ballot is Wednesday. The Democratic nominee is expected to face Republican Gov. John Kasich in the November general election.

Mr. Portune said he visited more than 38 Ohio counties during the past 45 days to meet with voters, elected officials and leaders of organizations traditionally associated with the Democratic Party “to assess their interest in supporting a choice for governor in the Democratic Primary, but that he and Mr. Ford were unable to carry their joint effort any further.”

Mr. Portune said that he “offered his ongoing pledge to help bring the kinds of creative, best practice solutions to the state’s problems that are being developed at the local level all over Ohio and that he and Ford were committed toward doing in a gubernatorial bid.”

“It is at the local level where government is not only working across party lines, but it is at the local level where government has to work. Jack Ford and I both understand that local governments cannot pass the buck. We have to find solutions, across party lines within our means,” Mr. Portune said in his email. “While we have concluded that we are unable to meet our goals for the state through the means of a gubernatorial race, we both look forward to continuing in our efforts to work for the betterment of the Ohio Democratic Party and for the State of Ohio in other ways than as candidates for statewide office.”

Mr. Ford could not immediately be reached for comment.

The FitzGerald campaign declined to comment.

Mr. Portune, 55, a lawyer, has been on his county’s board of commissioners since 2000.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.