State Senator Eric Kearney of North Avondale will be Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald's running mate for lieutenant governor, a campaign source said today.
Kearney, who is 50 years old, will officially join the Democratic ticket tomorrow at an event with FitzGerald at Crowley's Pub in Mt. Adams, according to FitzGerald campaign spokesman Matt McGrath.
Cuyahoga County executive FitzGerald is taking on incumbent Republican governor John Kasich in the 2014 election. It is assumed that Kasich will run with the current lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor.
The choice of Kearney, who is the Ohio Senate minority leader, is seen as a way of reaching voters in Hamilton County, which has voted for President Obama in the last two presidential elections. Fitzgerald is a well-known figure in northeast Ohio, where he is the chief executive of Cuyahoga County's government, but is not as well known in southwest Ohio.
"I'm very proud of my Cincinnati roots and that's probably a big consideration for Ed FitzGerald,'' Kearney told Ohio Public Radio Wednesday.
"Also, I have experience at the statehouse,'' Kearney said. "I've been honored to serve as minority leader of the Ohio Senate and I've been able to pass a number of bills by working with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle."
Because of term limits, Kearney can't run for re-election to the Ohio Senate next year. Kearney, a lawyer, was appointed to the Senate in 2005 and won election easily in the heavily-Democratic 9th Ohio Senate District.
Earlier this year, there was some talk of Kearney running for Cincinnati mayor, but he declined.
Kearney and his wife, Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, are long-time friends of President and Mrs. Obama. The Kearneys held fundraising events for Obama dating back to the days when he was running for the U.S. Senate from Illinois.
The Ohio Republican Party wasted no time blasting the choice of Kearney, with Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges issuing a press release criticizing Kearney for his votes against the Kasich budget and his support of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.