Democrats Choose Hagan To Lead Statewide Slate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - As expected, the Ohio Democratic Party executive committee unanimously endorsed Tim Hagan (pictured, right) for the 2002 governor's race.

The former Cuyahoga County commissioner from Cleveland was the only candidate to declare an interest in running against incumbent Gov. Bob Taft.

"This election is about the future of Ohio," Hagan said Saturday. "We are the seventh largest state in the country and yet we rank near the bottom in almost every leading indicator of future economic success."

The slate, nominated after a morning of candidate screenings Saturday in Columbus, will take on a field of incumbents: Republicans hold all statewide nonjudicial offices.

Hagan has yet to choose a lieutenant governor for the ticket.

Hagan is married to Kate Mulgrew, who played Capt. Kathryn Janeway on the series "Star Trek: Voyager." Her Hollywood connections could help Hagan with fund-raising.

Democrats also nominated state Sen. Leigh Herington, the Senate minority leader from Ravenna, for attorney general. Herington, an attorney barred by term limits from running again in the Senate, will take on Jim Petro, now the state auditor.

State Rep. Bryan Flannery of Lakewood, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state, said the office's initials should stand for "save our state."

"Save it from greed, save it from arrogance and save it from a lack of leadership," said Flannery, of Lakewood, who had announced his candidacy on Jan. 17. He faces incumbent Kenneth Blackwell.

The Democratic Party has until Feb. 21 to round out the slate with candidates for auditor and treasurer, spokeswoman Lauren Worley said.

Among those expressing interest are U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer from Akron; Carty Finkbeiner, the former Toledo mayor; Mary Boyle, a former state representative and Cuyahoga County commissioner; Helen Smith, a former Cuyahoga County commissioner; and state Rep. Joseph Sulzer from Chillicothe.

On the Republican side, Taft will have to find a replacement on his ticket for Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, who is running for state Supreme Court.

Petro and Attorney General Betty Montgomery will seek each other's offices because term limits won't allow them to seek the same seats again.

Incumbent Treasurer Joe Deters also will run.

The Democrats earlier endorsed Tim Black, a Hamilton County Municipal judge, for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Republican Andy Douglas of Toledo, who is leaving because of constitutional age limits. Black will face O'Connor.

Janet Burnside, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge, has been endorsed as the Democrat against incumbent Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)