Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says he’s moving forward with plans to run for Ohio Governor. He’s forming an exploratory committee and beginning work on the necessary paperwork from the Board of Elections.
That’s despite not having the backing of the Ohio Democratic Party.
Portune says Ohioans deserve a choice.
"I believe that I am the candidate to lead our party," says Portune. "I have 21 (consecutive) years in local government service. To win Ohio as a Democrat you've got to do well in Southern Ohio and I certainly have done that - winning four consecutive elections as a member of the Cincinnati City Council and then winning four consecutive elections as a Hamilton County Commissioner."
Portune says it is that record of service that distinguishes himself from current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald.
As Governor, Portune says he’d focus on issues like transportation, business, and increasing jobs while making sure hard hit Ohioans have the social safety nets they need. He says he’s fiscally conservative and knows how to balance a lean budget.
"I'm running to make Ohio - a great state - a much better, great state," says Portune.
Portune has until February 5 to gather the necessary petition signatures to force a May primary run-off with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern tells WVXU, "Every two years, we get excited about the Cincinnati Bengals and Todd Portune talks about running for an office."
Redfern adds FitzGerald is the party’s endorsed candidate and says Portune has no chance.
Portune acknowledged that FitzGerald already has the endorsement of many of the party faithful but says that was before they had a choice.
At least two Democratic Cincinnati Council members, Chris Seelbach and P.G. Sittenfeld, have tweeted their intent to remain in the FitzGerald camp.
As for the cost of running a gubernatorial campaign, Portune says he doesn't believe elections should cost as much as they do, especially given the popularity of social media and other means of getting one's message out for little or no cost. He says he has an agressive 30 days in front of him. He does concede that if he believes it is apparent by then that he can't win, he won't continue.
Read how the new conference unfolded with our Storify account: