FitzGerald names running mate

By MARC KOVAC | R-C CAPITAL BUREAU Published:

COLUMBUS -- Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald named a Dayton area Democrat as his choice for lieutenant governor Friday, a little more than a month after his first pick stepped aside due to tax bill issues.

Sharen Neuhardt joins the ticket with hopes of unseating Republican incumbent John Kasich. She is a licensed attorney who had two unsuccessful runs for Congress, losing to Steve Austria in 2008 and Mike Turner in 2012.

Neuhardt has been a frequent critic of GOP-backed abortion restrictions and women's health issues, appearing at a Statehouse rally last year.

The FitzGerald campaign announced the new running mate in a fund-raising email to supporters. A formal introduction is planned in Dayton over the weekend.

Neuhardt said her corporate law background "makes her keenly aware of right and wrong ways to do things and how to help businesses grow and. create jobs ."

She added that, if elected she would continue to serve as a "strong advocate" for women.

Abortion opponents, however, called her a "desperate and otherwise radical pick."

"By far, Ed Fitzgerald is out of touch with average Ohioans who at a minimum believe abortions should be rare," said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.

Neuhardt replaces State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati), FitzGerald's initial running mate, who dropped out of the race after continued news coverage of tax debts.

The Ohio Democratic Party has endorsed FitzGerald, but Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune may run against FitzGerald.

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