Bill O'Neill's Gubernatorial Candidacy is Not Viable, Says Ohio Democratic Party

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click to enlarge Bill O'Neill's Gubernatorial Candidacy is Not Viable, Says Ohio Democratic Party
Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice and current Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Bill O'Neill, he of the marijuana legalization platform and the infamous "Hayloft" Facebook post, is not a viable candidate for governor, according to the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP).

ODP Chairman David Pepper read a memo Wednesday night prepared by a subcommittee that had been tasked with vetting all seven original Democratic candidates — Bill O'Neill, Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Schiavoni, Connie Pillich, Betty Sutton, and Nan Whaley. (Pillich and Whaley have pulled out of the race. Sutton is now Cordray's running mate.)

"With one exception," the memo read, "all candidates satisfied the committee that there was not an issue or pattern of issues that risked the basic viability of their candidacy or of the Democratic ticket should they emerge as the Democratic nominee."

The memo cited O'Neill's "pattern of financial and ethical challenges" and "highly inflammatory and insensitive remarks" on social media as items that would not only make him difficult to elect, but would imperil down-ballot races as well.

ODP Communications Director Kirstin Alvanitakis restated for Scene what the memo (included below) said in its opening paragraph: that the committee's goal was not to "pass judgement on any individual candidate's political views. That will be left to the voters to sort out."

O'Neill told that Pepper took a "cheap shot" by reading a memo with a 'CONFIDENTIAL' water mark on it, but that he nevertheless remained bullish on his candidacy. Earlier in February, he announced that he would not be seeking or accepting the endorsement of the Ohio Democratic Party or any county Democratic party in the 2018 primary. And he reaffirmed that position for Scene when we asked about the memo.

"I do not want, nor will I accept, the endorsement of the Ohio Democratic Party or any of its affiliates," O'Neill wrote in an emailed statement Thursday. "I strongly encourage the Ohio Democratic Party to come out of their shell and endorse Richard Cordray, which is what they want to do. The last time they did that, in 2010, I won 87 out of 88 counties."

When asked if he was being facetious, he responded: "true quote."

"The Ohio Democratic party is doing a re run of 2016...only this time I am Bernie," O'Neill declared, confidently. "The last time I ran for office statewide was in 2012. I not only won the primary, but I went on to defeat an incumbent Republican while being outspent by $2 million. The last time the Ohio Democratic party cleared the way for Richard Cordray in a primary was in 2010 when he went into the election supported by the Ohio Democratic Party and the National Rifle Association. He was soundly beaten by Mike DeWine who I intend to beat in November."

Brent Larkin, the former PD editorial director, dealt O'Neill a blow in a column published yesterday about Dennis Kucinich. Larkin said that Kucinich's strategy of making assault weapons central to his campaign was an "astute" political move. But O'Neill didn't get a nod when Larkin discussed the competition.

"The two other Democrats worthy of voter consideration," wrote Larkin "are [Rich] Cordray and Youngstown-area state Sen. Joe Schiavoni."

Lest we forget:
And here's the ODP memo.

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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