Todd Portune would have made a "great" candidate for governor if he had run, said Toledo City Councilman Jack Ford, his erstwhile running mate.
Portune, 55, a Hamilton County Commissioner, for several weeks considered running against the front-runner, Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, for the Democratic nomination for governor.
With less than a week to go before the deadline to submit signatures he appeared to have settled on Ford as his running mate, but then decided against making the run at all.
The decision came a couple days after they met for their first face-to-face discussion at the Lima Bob Evans Restaurant.
"I think he'd be a great candidate. I knew him by reputation. We hit it off because we both have been through serious complications and we both were facing at some point, so our doctors told us, double amputations - his both legs and my both arms," Ford said in an interview this week with The Blade.
"We pretty much kept talking about it, and at a certain point it was just too much with too little time," Ford said. "It was a huge mountain to climb."
And that's even before facing the John Kasich re-election campaign. "Frankly Kasich has a huge money lead," Ford said.
Ford said that Portune made the decision last weekend not to run because labor support they were hoping for didn't materialize. Despite Portune's praise for Ford, Ford said he wasn't Portune's only candidate for running mate.
He said FitzGerald had already corraled the support of the large-county Democratic Party committees and unions.
Ford, 66, has held elective office in Toledo almost continuously since his first election to city council in 1987, followed by Ohio House of Representatives, Toledo mayor, Toledo Board of Education, and now again (since November) on city council.
Ford came close to dying in 2011 from a "perfect storm" of illnesses, including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and bad kidneys.
Their medical condition is a bond that united him and Portune. Portune suffers from blood clotting in his legs and now moves about on crutches.
Ford joked, "we'd probably corral the recovering community."
Turning serious, Ford says that Portune's health issues have imbued him with deep compassion for other people. "I saw a deep reservoir of compassion," he said.