COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Ohio Democrats appear to have their ticket in place to challenge Gov. John Kasich's re-election.

An official announcement is expected later today that Ed FitzGerald has selected Sen. Eric Kearney as his running mate. Kearney, 50, is from Cincinnati and a good friend of President Barack Obama. His wife was Obama's classmate at Harvard.

"Many of you know Eric already – if not personally, by reputation. Eric is known for being one of the most effective members of the Ohio legislature, able to reach across party lines to get things done. He is also a fierce advocate for Ohio’s middle-class families and children and shares my commitment to restoring those values to our state’s economy," FitzGerald said in an e-mail to supporters.

Kearney, who is black, lends both racial and geographic diversity to the top of Democrats' 2014 ticket. He is expected to help draw votes from Ohio's heavily Republican southwest region.

FitzGerald, of Cleveland, is a former FBI agent and executive of Democrat-dominated Cuyahoga County.

Kearney was elected Senate Minority Leader in 2012. He served on the national finance committee of Obama's 2008 campaign and as a state co-chair.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges criticized Democrats for not holding a media event to make the announcement.

"Surprised their not making their candidate available to the press. This is a guy who called tax cuts "un-American." They must need more time to prep his answer," he said in a text message reply to a request seeking comment from 610 WTVN's Matt Bruning.

A spokesman for the FitzGerald campaign says they plan to hold events around the state on Thursday and Friday to formally introduce Kearney as FitzGerald's running mate.