Thursday, January 24, 2002

Reece on running mate list

Governor candidate is interested

By Ron Liebau and Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Vice Mayor Alicia Reece will meet with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan today to discuss becoming his running mate this fall.

        Mr. Hagan, 55, is a former Cuyahoga County commissioner and the only declared Democratic candidate for governor.

        Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican from Cincinnati, is seeking a second four-year term.

        Mr. Hagan will be on a campaign swing in Cincinnati today.

        “I'm in a listening stage right now,” Ms. Reece said Wednesday. “I'm really soul searching to see what's best to help Cincinnatians and Ohioans.”

        In her second term on Cincinnati City Council, the 30-year-old Ms. Reece is “one of a few people we are looking at,” said Jerry Austin, consultant to the Hagan campaign.

        Mr. Austin confirmed that another possible running mate is Vernon Sykes, former Democratic state representative from Akron and now an assistant professor at Kent State University.

        Mr. Austin said it is premature to suggest the two are the finalists. Mr. Hagan has already met with Mr. Sykes.

        Ms. Reece has come “highly recommended” to join Mr. Hagan on the ticket, said Mr. Austin. “Even though she is young, she is a very impressive woman.”

        Ms. Reece said her admiration for Mr. Hagan's campaign is mutual. “I'm certainly impressed with his passion for Ohio, and his vision to get back to the basics, which are education, employment and small business,” she said.

        “I'm interested to hear about those issues and what kind of impact I could have on them by being on the ticket.”

        The Bond Hill councilwoman has become popular among state Democrats. Some thought she would make a strong candidate to run for secretary of state against incumbent Republican Ken Blackwell.

        Linking Ms. Reece with Mr. Hagan on a Democratic ticket would follow conventional political wisdom. Gubernatorial candidates usually seek to balance their slates, often by selecting someone unlike themselves from another region of the state where they are not as well known.

        Mr. Hagan's political base is Cleveland.

        “You always look for someone who brings something to the ticket,” said Mr. Austin, a veteran of state politics and former senior adviser to Gov. Richard Celeste.


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