Rendell endorses Democrat Connie Pillich for Ohio governor

By Julie Carr Smyth - Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Connie Pillich got the backing of former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell on Tuesday, and the two plan on hitting the campaign trail.

The Democratic stalwart’s backing could be an important asset to Pillich, a former state representative, as she seeks to distinguish herself from the crowded Democratic field.

Six Democrats are vying for the chance to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited and unable to seek re-election.

Former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray joined the race last week and embarked on a cross-state “kitchen table tour.” A former Ohio attorney general with likely support from former President Barack Obama, he is viewed as among Democrats’ best chances of taking back the helm of the bellwether state next year.

The plainspoken Rendell is another Democratic powerhouse, however. He has been mayor of Philadelphia and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

He said in a statement that Pillich is the best choice of the Democratic field, which also includes former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

“I’ve got a reputation for being blunt, so I won’t mince words: Connie Pillich will be a darn good governor of Ohio,” he said. “As a former Air Force captain, a public defender and state representative, Connie knows a thing or two about leadership. I’m proud to endorse her candidacy and I’ll stump like hell to get her elected.”

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press