- Associated Press - Friday, January 26, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The lone Democrat on the Ohio Supreme Court said Friday he’s officially left the bench to join a crowded governor’s race.

Justice William O’Neill said his departure was official as of midnight.

O’Neill had taken himself off cases before the court but defended his decision to stay until Friday, saying he isn’t officially a candidate until he files early next month. Some Republican lawmakers tried to oust him early.

O’Neill said he’s spending his first day off the court raising money, gathering petitions and preparing for the Ohio Democratic Party vetting process. He plans to discuss his platform at a Cleveland speech on Tuesday.

Candidates who pass party vetting can participate in party-sanctioned debates and forums. The party is staying neutral during the primary.

Five candidates including O’Neill are running in the May Democratic primary for governor.

Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited, on Thursday named Youngstown appeals court Judge Mary DeGenaro to fill O’Neill’s seat.

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