Sen. Eric Kearney, the Democratic lieutenant governor running mate for gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, is off the ticket.
He had resigned his position as Senate minority leader when he was selected as FitzGerald's running mate.
Kearney has been widely criticized for unpaid taxes along with his credit card debt.
Both men said this would be the best move for the campaign.
From their statement:
“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,” Mr. Kearney said.
“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."
This does not bode well for the FitzGerald campaign and is not the best way to start a campaign. I expect that criticism over the choice, along with the vetting process, will be a continuing issue during the campaign, opening FitzGerald up to questions about how he would perform similar acts if he were elected.
The Ohio Republican Party got in the first dig with this tweet:
"Historians and pundits always say that the first real decision a governor makes is the one of running mate." - Ed FitzGerald
Then they issued this statement attacking FitzGerald and the "disservice" he did to Kearney.
"Ed Fitzgerald has done a huge disservice to Senator Kearney and his family. By failing to fully vet him, FitzGerald put his running mate in an impossible situation for weeks before finally abandoning him in an attempt to save his own campaign. We have learned a lot about FitzGerald and his priorities throughout this entire episode. His lack of judgment and honesty will haunt him for the remainder of this campaign. 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. If anyone should leave this race, it's Fitzgerald who is clearly not prepared for statewide office."
It's going to be a long campaign...