Ohio Democrat Picks Mayor for Gubernatorial Running Mate

Connie Pillich, the sole Democratic woman running for Ohio governor, has picked Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer as her running mate.

By Marty Schladen

Connie Pillich, the sole Democratic woman running for Ohio governor, has picked Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer as her running mate.

Pillich, a former state representative from suburban Cincinnati, said Schertzer would be an ideal lieutenant governor.

"After completing my 88 County Tour and visiting every single county of our state, I witnessed firsthand too many communities that have been forgotten by Columbus and Washington, D.C., politicians," Pillich said in a statement. "I knew I needed a local leader to join me in making Ohio a place that works for everyone.

"Scott Schertzer had to make hard choices and tough calls during the depths of the recession, compounded by a state government that actively took away tools from local public safety and first responders," she said. "Scott has experience making tough decisions under pressure and that's exactly the type of leadership Ohio needs."

Schertzer, 51, has been mayor of economically distressed Marion since 2008. He spent the nine years before that on the city council.

Schertzer, a public school teacher until he became mayor, also worked for now-U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown when Brown was secretary of state and in the Ohio treasurer's office under Mary Ellen Withrow.

In the May 8 Democratic primary, Pillich and Schertzer will face former U.S. Consumer Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of the Youngstown area, Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who formally announced his candidacy on Wednesday.

The deadline to file as a candidate is Feb. 7.

In an interview, Schertzer said he likes that the Democratic field to replace term-limited GOP Gov. John Kasich is so crowded.

"I'm excited about the primaries that are taking place this year," he said. "I'm tired of political kingpins deciding who the nominees are."

The winner of the Democratic primary will face the winner of what is now a two-way Republican race. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is running against Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Pillich's camp thinks her ticket is well-suited to take on the winner of the GOP contest.

"Both Pillich and Schertzer have a track record of winning in red areas of the state," her campaign said in a statement. "Pillich held a Republican-leaning State House district in the suburbs of Cincinnati, while Schertzer has been Marion's first Democratic mayor in decades -- winning in a rural community where Republicans hold a double-digit party registration advantage."

(c)2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.