COLUMBUS — Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill picked a Cleveland educator on Tuesday as his running mate in the race for governor, adding diversity in race, age and experience that he contended will resonate with Democrats across the state.
Chantelle E. Lewis, of East Cleveland, is a former city council member and school board member, a one-time Cleveland schools teacher and a current elementary school principal in Lorain County.
She is only the second running mate to be announced by the crowded Democratic gubernatorial field, which includes former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. Ex-Congressman and Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich filed paperwork Monday for expected entry into the fray.
Three Republicans are also in the race to succeed GOP Gov. John Kasich, who can't run again due to term limits.
O'Neill, 70, caused a national stir in November when he volunteered candid details of his sexual past on Facebook in an attempt to take a swipe at the “media frenzy” over sexual misconduct. He later apologized.
On Tuesday, he called the addition of Lewis to his ticket “a dream come true.” The jurist, military veteran and nurse said the 42-year-old Lewis, who is black, brings a diversity and experience to his team that will resonate with Democratic voters. He said she has two master's degrees and is working on her doctorate.
“I'm a white male nurse running with a black female teacher,” he said. “It can't get more diverse than our ticket.”
O'Neill has submitted his resignation from the bench effective Jan. 26.
He was drawn flak for campaigning while seated on the bench, which critics — including Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor — have said is a violation of judicial conduct rules.
O'Neill contends he is not violating a prohibition on campaigning for another office while serving on the court, because he will not legally become a “candidate” until he formally files his paperwork.
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