COLUMBUS - Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill says he will resign from the top court to run for governor.
O'Neill, who has served on the court since 2013, has been criticized for running a gubernatorial campaign while remaining on the Ohio Supreme Court, an apparent violation of state judicial code. O'Neill has said candidacy doesn't start until the paperwork is filed in February.
O'Neill told The Enquirer that he would set a date for his resignation on Friday. He emailed the news to Ohio Young Democrats on Wednesday, saying he could not attend their Saturday meeting.
O'Neill said he wants to finish as many of 52 unfinished cases as possible before the Feb. 7 filing deadline for governor. The decision came after discussions with Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor and the other justices.
O'Neill recently created a firestorm when he detailed his consensual sexual exploits with "approximately 50 very attractive females" in an attempt to defend Sen. Al Franken against allegations of sexual harassment. O'Neill has since apologized and taken the Facebook post down.
O'Neill is the sole Democrat on the Ohio Supreme Court. Republican Gov. John Kasich will select O'Neill's replacement. But that doesn't bother O'Neill too much.
"Undoubtedly, that will come from the court of appeals judge pool and they are all good," O'Neill said.
O'Neill initially said he would leave the governor's race once former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau leader Richard Cordray entered it. But Cordray jumped in the race Tuesday, and O'Neill said he plans to remain in.
O'Neill said he is the only candidate talking seriously about legalizing medical marijuana or re-opening state mental health hospitals to address Ohio's burgeoning opioid crisis.
"I am the best candidate for the job. Rich Cordray would make a wonderful governor. Those two statements go together," O'Neill said.