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Kearney leaving the Democratic ticket doesn't end questions for FitzGerald
One Democratic consultant says Ohio Dems should turn to another gubernatorial candidate as well

Karen Kasler
Kearney joined FitzGerald on the ticket just about two weeks ago, but Kearney's tax problems quickly became the news.
Courtesy of KAREN KASLER
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Eric Kearney is off the Democratic ticket as Ed FitzGerald’s gubernatorial running mate. Now the discussion moves to who will take his place and whether FitzGerald can recover.

Last week, Kearney insisted he would stay on the ticket despite roughly $850,000 in back federal and state taxes linked to his family business. But many Democrats had been pushing FitzGerald to replace him.

One of them is retired Democratic consultant Gerald Austin, who says there’s no way to completely undo the damage since Kearney’s tax problems went public.

LISTEN: Austin on the damage

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“It can’t. It already looks bad. The first thing you always want to do when you’re picking a running mate is not to have stories that are going on for a week about, ‘Why’d you pick him when you knew the information?’ And that’s happened now.”

Austin goes further than calling for Kearney to leave the ticket. He says Cincinnati-area state Rep. Connie Pillich -- an Air Force vet and lawyer running for state treasurer -- should be the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate instead of FitzGerald.

Here is Kearney resignation statement, issued by the FitzGerald campaign today:

"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."

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