Democratic leaders would like an Akron congressman to run for state auditor or treasurer.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan accepted his party's endorsement, saying he would help the Democratic Party stand up for the working people of Ohio in this year's statewide elections.
"This candidate will not equivocate on minimum wage or prevailing wage," Hagan, a former Cuyahoga County commissioner, told the party faithful Saturday.
"We have an obligation as a party to stand up for the working men and women of this state," Hagan said.
The Ohio Democratic Party made endorsements for most of its candidates in the statewide elections, promising to dent the Republican lock on Ohio's nonjudicial statewide posts.
Those endorsed: The party's executive committee endorsed Hagan for governor; state Senate Minority Leader Leigh E. Herington of Portage County for attorney general; and state Rep. Bryan Flannery of suburban Cleveland for secretary of state.
The executive committee delayed endorsements for state auditor and state treasurer to talk to additional candidates.
"I think we have a dynamic team," said David J. Leland, Ohio Democratic chairman. "I'm very excited."
Akron rep: State Sen. Mark Mallory, a Cincinnati Democrat and the chairman of the screening committee, said screeners interviewed U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, to possibly become the Democratic candidate for either state treasurer or state auditor.
No commitment was made, however, and Sawyer left Columbus to speak with U.S. House Democratic leaders. Sawyer couldn't be reached to comment.
"He said he wanted direction from the party," Leland said of Sawyer. "I would like to see him on the statewide ticket."
A Sawyer spokesman said the former Akron mayor was deciding whether to run in the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District which stretches from Summit County through Portage County and into the Mahoning Valley or another congressional district, and also was thinking about statewide office.
Other possibilities: State Sen. Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat and Tim Hagan's brother, and state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr., a Girard Democrat, announced their candidacies for the 17th District last week.
State Sen. Timothy J. Ryan, a Warren Democrat, and U.S. Rep. James Traficant Jr., D-Poland, who is under federal indictment, also are considering possible runs in that district.
Mallory said among others to whom party officials have talked about the state treasurer and auditor positions are former Cleveland city councilwoman Helen Smith, former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Mary O. Boyle.
Issues: In an interview, Tim Hagan said he planned to make his campaign about three issues: education, the economy and leadership. He underscored problems he said the state had not only in primary and secondary schools, but also in higher education.
Herington said he agonized over the decision to seek the Democratic nomination for attorney general.
"The people need a lawyer," Herington said. "We need to keep them honest." Herington said he'll submit his resignation effective Feb. 28 as the Senate's Democratic leader.
Flannery said he'd take a strong campaign to the incumbent, Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell.
Playing off the initials of the office, Flannery said, "This is SOS. This is a distress call about the secretary of state."
On the Republican side, Gov. Bob Taft is seeking re-election, while State Auditor Jim Petro will seek the Republican nomination for attorney general and Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery will run for state auditor.
Secretary of State Blackwell and State Treasurer Joe Deters are seeking re-election.