Democratic candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald has chosen Ohio Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati to be his running mate in next year’s election.
Kearney’s southwestern Ohio roots help balance out a ticket pulled by Northeast Ohio by FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County’s top executive official. Kearney also has the ability to raise money. He and his wife Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney are friends with Barack and Michelle Obama and he served as the co-chair of Obama’s Ohio fundraising committee.
“Eric is known for being one of the most effective members of the Ohio legislature, able to reach across party lines to get things done,” FitzGerald said in an email sent Wednesday to supporters. “He is also a fierce advocate for Ohio’s middle-class families and children and shares my commitment to restoring those values to our state’s economy.”
Kearney, 50, was appointed to the state Senate in 2005 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. He cannot seek re-election next year due to term limits. He has served as the leader of the Senate minority party since 2012.
Kearney is a licensed attorney. Before serving in the Senate, he founded one of the country’s largest African-American publishing companies, Sesh Communications, which publishes the Dayton Defender, The Cincinnati Herald and The Northern Kentucky Herald.
FitzGerald and Kearney will likely receive the Democratic Party nomination, facing Republican Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Kearney would be the first black Democrat elected to statewide office in Ohio.
Republicans quickly criticized the choice, saying there’s a clear contrast between Democrats and the Kasich-Taylor team, noting the state’s rainy day fund was filled and taxes have been cut on their watch.
“[Kearney] has offered continued praise and defense of ObamaCare even after its disastrous rollout,” Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges said in a statement. “Given his record on taxes, ObamaCare, and his support of past Strickland budgets, the Democrats should make their candidate publicly available to the media today and not have him hiding from his positions.”
The campaign planned to announce Kearney’s run in Cincinnati on Thursday, but news reports hinted an announcement was forthcoming and Kearney was the pick.
Kearney could not immediately be reached for comment.