By Jordan Cohen
Atty. Sharen Neuhardt, named last week by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald to replace his previous running mate as lieutenant governor, said there is more to her support for women’s issues besides the hot-button topic of abortion.
“Women’s issues are Ohio economic issues,” Neuhardt said during a campaign stop Saturday at Cafe 422. “When we reduce every woman’s issue to abortion, we do a disservice to the women of this state.”
Neuhardt, 62, was selected by FitzGerald after his lieutenant-governor candidate, state Sen. Eric Kearney, withdrew from the ticket after extensive publicity about his large and unpaid tax debts. A business lawyer from Yellow Springs near Dayton, Neuhardt introduced herself to Trumbull County Democrats at a brunch funded by the re-election campaign of county Commissioner Frank Fuda.
Polls show FitzGerald in a close race with incumbent Republican John Kasich. Neuhardt said she believes Democrats are closing the gap.
“People may not know a lot about Ed FitzGerald, but they know they don’t like John Kasich,” she said.
Neuhardt was especially critical of the budget passed by the Republican majority that cut women’s health services.
“They callously disregarded the needs of women,” said Neuhardt, who is pro-choice and a former board member of Planned Parenthood. “None of these services where they cut funding are related to abortion.”
Neuhardt has never been elected to public office, but ran twice run for Congress. She said she does not feel the public will view that as a detriment.
“I’ve only gotten paychecks from the private sector, never the public one, and I think people will appreciate that,” she said.
Neuhardt said that although all the major statewide elected offices in Ohio are held by Republicans, Democrats can still win, as evidenced by President Barack Obama’s carrying the state in 2008 and 2012.
“I don’t think Ohio is a red state — it’s a purple state,” she said. “We’re probably evenly split and we still have a long way to go before the election.”