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Local attorney Democrat’s choice for Lt. governor running mate

Democrat Sharen Neuhardt, who has twice run for Congress and lives in Greene County, is joining Ed FitzGerald’s campaign as his running mate and taking on incumbent Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor this year.

FitzGerald and Neuhardt are scheduled to hold a kick off event in downtown Dayton at 4pm Saturday.

Neuhardt is a business lawyer for Thompson Hine and ran for Congress in 2008 against former Congressman Steve Austria and in 2012 against Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, getting beat both times.

Neuhardt has never held elected office —a fact that she is pitching as an upside.

“It’s an advantage to not be just another politician,” she said Friday morning in an interview with the Dayton Daily News, the Springfield News-Sun and NewsCenter 7.

FitzGerald chatted with Neuhardt about potential lieutenant governor candidates at a fundraiser in Dayton in December, just two days after state Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, withdrew as FitzGerald's running mate. Newspapers reported that Kearney, his wife and their media business owed more than $750,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest. Neuhardt said the only debts she has is her home mortgage and a car loan on her red 2013 Chevy Malibu.

Neuhardt said FitzGerald asked her to join the ticket Saturday. Neuhardt said she is joining the ticket because she believes in FitzGerald, Ohio’s economy is faltering under Kasich and the GOP-controlled Legislature is doing harm to women’s health issues.

Neuhardt grew up in Dayton, one of four daughters of Dayton Police Lt. Robert Swartz. Although her parents both failed to finish high school as teens, Neuhardt earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a law degree from Georgetown University. She is married to David Neuhardt, a Thompson-Hine attorney, and they have two adult children and a foster son who is a Rwandan refugee.

While running for Congress against Austria and then Turner, Neuhardt said the lesson learned is that there was little she could say to change voters’ minds in the heavily Republican leaning districts. So, now she likes her chances running statewide, she said.

“I think John Kasich has a real fight on his hands,” she said.

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Schrimpf released a statment on the choice of Neuhardt saying, “FitzGerald failed his self-declared first major test of picking his running mate two months ago when he selected someone who failed to pay his employees’ social security and Medicare taxes and allowed his campaign to mislead the public about it. Today FitzGerald is putting in 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.”