September 2, 2014

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Democrat ends bid to become Ohio’s lieutenant governor

Ohio Democratic Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney speaks at a rally in Cincinnat on Nov. 21. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Ohio Democratic Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney speaks at a rally in Cincinnat on Nov. 21. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

COLUMBUS — A Democratic lieutenant governor candidate in Ohio who faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal tax liens dropped out of the race Tuesday, saying his financial troubles were taking away from debate on important policy issues.

State Sen. Eric Kearney, a Cincinnati attorney, said in a statement that he would no longer be gubernatorial contender Ed FitzGerald’s running mate as FitzGerald challenges Republican Gov. John Kasich next year.

“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,” Kearney said. “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.”

Kearney, his wife, Jan-Michele, and their Cincinnati publishing business, KGL Media Group, owe roughly $700,000 in state and federal tax liens. A foreclosure proceeding, credit card debt and unpaid workers’ compensation premiums also had been revealed in a series of bruising media reports, which also highlighted conflicting accounts about how much FitzGerald knew of the details before Kearney’s selection.

In an interview after the decision, FitzGerald said the ticket’s inability to effectively draw attention to an uptick in Ohio unemployment shortly after Kearney’s candidacy was announced persuaded him the controversy had become a distraction.

“We weren’t really able to even talk about that or communicate that,” he said. “We had to keep talking about all the nuances of these business transactions that this business had gone through.”

Kearney said he and his wife remain committed to KGL, which does business as Sesh Communications, and the Cincinnati Herald, its flagship publication.

“We were dedicated to keeping alive one of our nation’s oldest African-American newspapers and committed to our employees and their families,” he said.

FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive in Cleveland, said he anticipates picking a new running mate early in the new year — dismissing Republican suggestions that he so mishandled the situation over the past three weeks that he also should drop out of the contest.

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Schrimpf said failing to fully vet Kearney caused the flap to escalate, blaming FitzGerald.

“His lack of judgment and honesty will haunt him for the remainder of this campaign,” Schrimpf said in a statement. “We still don’t know how FitzGerald allowed this to happen, but we know the entire time nothing Ed Fitzgerald or the Ohio Democrats have said has been true.”

FitzGerald, a former FBI agent, said the controversy set a standard for the campaign of tying candidates to the performance of businesses in which they have a stake, and that won’t bode well for Kasich, a former managing director of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers.

“If John Kasich had been on my list to be lieutenant governor, I would have disqualified him based on his business experience,” FitzGerald said. “Because he ended up saying he should run for office even though his business experience was walking away a millionaire while pensions in Ohio lost a couple hundred million dollars after the business that he was a director of went bankrupt.”

That conversation may have to wait until Ohio Democrats figure out how to defuse fallout from the Kearney flap without alienating key interests, including black voters and powerful politicians.

Shortly after FitzGerald’s Nov. 20 announcement of Kearney as a running mate, the ticket scored the important endorsement of U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, an influential Cleveland congresswoman with pull in the city’s powerful, Democrat-dominated black community.

Fudge was aware of Kearney’s financial situation at the time, said an aide of hers — meaning the decision to remove him from the ticket stands a chance of backfiring and alienating a popular politician with the power to get out votes for FitzGerald. Fudge, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was in South Africa on Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

Interest in retaining racial diversity on the FitzGerald ticket had some turning their attention to the possibility of recruiting Ohio House Minority Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard, an up-and-comer on the state political scene who is black.

Appearing at a news conference on Ohio’s economy Tuesday, Heard declined to address the speculation surrounding the gubernatorial ticket. She said she was leaving the topic to “the politicos and pundits to address.”

FitzGerald said race was not a determining factor in selecting Kearney and would not be for picking his replacement. He said a variety of candidates were being considered from different parts of the state.

  • Heath J

    So AP, tell me again why this is a Bad Thing?

    The man is obviously incapable of success in the private sector, why would we hand him the Citizens’ checkbook?

    Wait, don’t answer that. Minority Democrat. I’m just a dirty racist for even bringing it up.

    • HankKwah

      Not paying taxes is something the dems are passionate about. Look at all the clowns obama hired and appointed that were delinquent.

      • Popper Popovich

        I thought you and your tea party friends
        were all for that Hanky

        • HankKwah

          Goes to show what you know. Shut your mouth and open your ears a little more and you might learn something. MIGHT. I, however, am betting against it. You won’t learn until it’s too late, and then you’ll still insist you knew what you were doing. As everything burns around you.

          • Popper Popovich

            Duuuh less taxes less government.
            Hypocrite

          • HankKwah

            Says the economics flunky. Keep up the good work.

            Told you that you were stupid. You just proved it.

          • Popper Popovich

            O come on Hanky Panky
            You and your right wing nonsense does
            way more to prove yours over some poor
            soul with an IQ of only 50.

          • HankKwah

            Keep dreamin’, troll.

          • Popper Popovich

            Same comment you on the other site.
            Is that the same thing as your duuuuh
            drink duh koolaid?

          • HankKwah

            After your “the Benghazi scandal was made-up” post, you don’t warrant any sort of replies to any of your garbage. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Any “argument” that you post is just a reiteration of something someone has used on you, which you obviously didn’t understand, and all you do is repeat the same old “duh”, “koolaid”, “idiot”, “stupid”. Kindergarteners are capable of better arguments, and they have sense enough not to call names. You are a troll in every sense and definition of the word. Congrats, you’ve descended lower than anyone else on these boards.

          • Popper Popovich

            No Hanky Panky Wanky
            You always have been the lowest.
            And again the made up “Benghazi Scandal” is
            just that buddy, made up. Every news source but
            faux news and far right wing blogs prove it. Sorry
            you are not smart enough to type in to your favorite
            search engine to find the truth.
            Now go back to the kiddie table and drink some
            tea laced with arsenic.Is that not the teaparty version
            of duuuuuuh koolaid?

          • HankKwah

            Blah. Blah. Blah.

            Same old stuff. You’re too stupid to argue with, you know that? Read the article that you referenced. Not just the headline, the article. I READ IT, and NOT on Fox. You obviously didn’t, otherwise you wouldn’t sound so stupid.

            Think about this: If Benghazi was “made up”, why would obama have had to talk about it? Hmm? People died, even obama admitted that. Hilary Clinton, your next “chosen one”, admitted it. You’re just too flippin’ stupid to READ THE ARTICLE.

          • Popper Popovich

            Who is the stupid one arguing with me
            Hanky Panky? LOL

          • HankKwah

            Who’s arguing with you?
            Just trying to educate the ignorant and stupid.
            I’m better off having a discussion with my cat.
            At least my cat knows its backside from a hole in the ground. Can’t say the same for you. But then we’ve all known that from Day One.

          • Popper Popovich

            You keep doing it, you moron.

          • HankKwah

            You’re a perfect example of why this county and this country are so goofed up. You don’t even know the difference between an argument, a discussion, and when you’re being schooled. And you have been schooled, but you’re too stupid to know it.
            And as it’s been stated before, your “insults” carry absolutely no weight, considering the source.

          • Popper Popovich

            AHHHHH
            Drink your koolaid Hanky. You have never schooled
            anyone except kids having a tea party teabagging each
            other. And thank for you responding again for the 100th +
            time after you said you wouldn’t.lol

          • HankKwah

            That’s the best you’ve got?
            Go home, your mother’s calling you.

          • Popper Popovich

            O come on Hanky,even you can do a
            better then that.

  • bigmacky

    hehe- lots of so called “leaders” think they can do better with the public funds than their own private ones – just look at Lorain County – good thing he dropped out – imagine the disaster …….

  • alreadyfedup1

    Obama-tainted former national campaign person we all knew that wasn’t go to be good. Told you so!

  • John Davidson

    Typical for a Democrat. Probably wants to redistribute the wealth by having us pay his taxes. Oh that’s right, if he doesn’t pay we have to make up for it by paying more.