Less than a week after vowing to stay in the race, Ohio Senator Eric Kearney said in an emailed statement to reporters Tuesday he will remove himself as the running mate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald. Here's the email:
"When my wife Jan-Michele and I purchased the Cincinnati Herald we knew it would be a challenge. The media business was changing rapidly, and newspapers—both large and small—were struggling to adapt and remain profitable. But we were dedicated to keeping alive one of our nation’s oldest African-American newspapers and committed to our employees and their families.
Given the challenges the Herald faced, other small business owners might have walked away. But, we never considered closing our business because it would have meant shutting down a respected community newspaper dating back to the Civil Rights era, and putting people out of work.
When I became a State Senator in 2005, I stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the newspaper to focus on representing my hometown in the Ohio Senate. I have devoted my time in the Senate to improving children’s health, ensuring fair elections, and growing our state’s economy. Among the pieces of legislation that I was able to pass was a bill setting up a loan program that grants financial assistance to families wanting to adopt.During my tenure as Minority Leader, I worked across the aisle with former Senate President Tom Neihaus to enact reforms to stabilize and strengthen Ohio’s public pension systems. It wasn’t easy, but it shows what can be accomplished if you take a thoughtful and bipartisan approach to solving problems and treat people with respect.
Last month I accepted an opportunity to run for Lieutenant Governor because I believe this state is headed in the wrong direction. Ohio’s unemployment rate is rising, voting rights are threatened, and our schools and local communities don’t have the resources they need.
As questions arose about the financial challenges facing our newspaper business I wanted to set the record straight. That’s why I provided hundreds of documents and answered questions from reporters from across the state. This was all done to let the facts be known and to ensure complete transparency. I am convinced our business is on a path to resolving these issues in the near future and the facts support that conclusion.
With that being said, it’s undeniable that this has come to be a distraction from a discussion of the vital issues facing Ohio, and the choice voters must make in this election. The stakes are too high: we need a change of leadership to move Ohio in a new direction that puts more Ohioans back to work and builds a better future for our children.
I have discussed this with Ed FitzGerald, and while I will always be grateful for him selecting me to be his running mate, we agree that the best course of action is for me to step aside from the campaign for Lieutenant Governor and focus on serving the people of the Ninth Senate district."
Kearney admitted to reporters last week his company, KGL Media, which owns the Cincinnati Herald, owes nearly $730,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes.
WVXU political reporter Howard Wilkinson was on the conference call Kearney had with reporters last week and reported on the financial information he released.
Kearney was repeatedly asked if FitzGerald knew of the tax troubles when he tapped the Cincinnati Democrat to be his running mate. “To be clear, I provided all of this information to the campaign,’’ Kearney said.
The former minority leader blames a downturn in the newspaper industry for his financial troubles as well as a former employee who stole money.
Ed FiztGerald issued the following response:
"I have enormous respect for Senator Kearney's record as a community leader in the Cincinnati area, as a family man, and as one of the most respected and effective legislators in Ohio. Eric’s decency is matched only by his record of leadership and legislative accomplishment.
Eric and I agree about the challenges facing Ohio, and about how important it is for the state to change direction in the next election. Because that is our primary concern, we agreed that it is best for Sen. Kearney to step down from the ticket. Ultimately, the discussion of the crucial issues facing Ohio was in danger of being drowned out, making this decision difficult but necessary.
The campaign will now move on with the discussion squarely focused where it should be: How we can refocus state policies to benefit working people and middle-class families who are finding it increasingly difficult to get by in John Kasich's faltering economy."