Schiavoni merits top spot

On the side

Campaign stop: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitz-Gerald, who is running next year as a Democrat for governor, will make a campaign stop at 10 a.m. today at the Yankee Kitchen, 6635 Market St., in Boardman.

It’s part of a two-day tour with state Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, who FitzGerald named Wednesday as his lieutenant governor, across the state that started Thursday with stops in Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the highest-ranking elected Democrat in the state, will join FitzGerald and Kearney at the Boardman event. FitzGerald and Kearney will end the campaign swing today with visits to Cleveland and Columbus.

GOP town hall: The Trumbull Mahoning Columbiana Young Conservatives will have a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday with U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, at the Mahoning County Republican Party headquarters, 621 Boardman-Canfield Road.

Contact club President Tex Fischer with any questions and to RSVP by calling or texting him at 330-501-0829 or emailing him at

Time for some R&R: I will be on vacation next week so there won’t be a Friday column.

With Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s selection of Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney as his lieutenant governor running mate, it will likely result in state Sen. Joe Schiavoni replacing the latter as the top Democrat in the Senate.

FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County executive, selected Kearney on Wednesday as his lieutenant governor running mate for the 2014 election.

The selection wasn’t much of a surprise with Kearney long believed to be on the short list for the spot. Kearney brings racial and geographic diversity to the ticket as he’s black and from Cincinnati while FitzGerald is white and from the Cleveland area.

Diversity in a lieutenant governor running mate is overrated, but it may persuade more blacks to vote for the Democratic ticket.

It didn’t help the 2010 ticket though that was a terrible year for Democrats nationwide.

Ted Strickland, a white guy from Appalachia who was seeking re-election as governor, chose Yvette McGee Brown, a black woman from Columbus, as his running mate. They lost in a close race to Republican John Kasich and his running mate, Mary Taylor — also a ticket with geographic diversity and of course, Taylor is a woman.

FitzGerald’s decision to choose Kearney this early in the campaign is intended to give the duo more time to gain name recognition, which the ticket needs.

Curiously, the announcement was low-key, done through social media and by email. A two-day campaign swing to six key parts of the state, that started Thursday and includes a stop today in Boardman, is the roll-out for the ticket.

“I like him a lot personally,” Strickland said of Kearney. “Among the possible candidates [for lieutenant governor], he is the strongest so it’s a good choice. We’ll have a very competitive race in 2014.”

Schiavoni of Boardman, who is the Senate’s assistant minority leader, also praised the choice.

Kearney is “somebody you can trust,” said Schiavoni, D-33rd. “You can’t trust everybody in Columbus. But his honesty and knowledge are very, very impressive. He doesn’t play political games . He’s a straight shooter.”

State Sen. Lou Gentile of Steubenville, D-30th, whose name was floated as a potential running mate but said he never spoke to FitzGerald about it, had good things to say about Kearney.

FitzGerald “made a great choice,” he said. “Eric is smart and energetic and brings geographic diversity and balance to the ticket with his Statehouse experience.”

Because Kearney will be busy campaigning around the state as FitzGerald’s running mate, he’ll step down as Senate minority leader shortly, Schiavoni said. No date has been set, but “it will be soon,” Schiavoni said.

Schiavoni, a state senator since January 2009 and assistant minority leader since January 2012, said he wants to be the next Senate minority leader. That decision is made by the 10 Senate Democratic members.

“I definitely believe I can be helpful in moving the caucus along as leader,” he said.

Schiavoni seems to be the logical choice to head the Democratic caucus. It’s not like there’s a lot of Democrats in the Senate, and the list shrinks further once you take into account term limits and those running for other offices next year.

“Joe is in a great position to ascend to the leadership role,” Gentile said. “He’s done a great job as assistant leader.”

If Schiavoni is selected, he’d be the first Senate leader from Mahoning County since Harry Meshel, one of his political mentors, last served in that position since 1990.

Capri Cafaro of Liberty (Trumbull County), D-32nd, served as minority leader from November 2008 to January 2012.

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