The Associated Press
COLUMBUS - As the state's second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Jennette Bradley is relegated to mostly lesser events: touring a pizza plant in Wellston, speaking at a minority female high-tech event in Cleveland and inspecting a brownfields cleanup site in Cincinnati.
It is a role that the Republican and the nation's first black female lieutenant governor doesn't seem to mind.
"Being the first means you don't have the easiest road," she said.
Bradley, 51, works quietly as director of the Ohio Department of Commerce while also overseeing the Clean Ohio fund, serving as liaison to small business and housing agencies, chairwoman of the State and Local Government Commission and is a member of Taft's jobs cabinet.
She is paid $120,016 annually as an agency director. She does not receive a separate salary as lieutenant governor, which has no real statutory duties except taking charge if the governor dies, becomes incapacitated or is otherwise unavailable.
That happened Aug. 14 when Ohio and much of the East Coast was hit with a massive electricity blackout. While Gov. Bob Taft was vacationing in Canada, Bradley stepped in to coordinate state emergency activities and handle the media.
Bradley gave up a spot as the lone Republican on Columbus City Council and a high-profile executive job with Huntington National Bank to become Taft's running mate in 2002.
"I'm certainly comfortable with a more visible role if that's what she desires," Taft said. "She likes to get things done. She's not just out here for headlines."
Some say they're disappointed that Bradley hasn't been given or taken a prominent role.
"The role she's been given is to be a high-functioning bureaucrat," said Dan Trevas, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party and a former aide at Columbus City Council.
"There was hope, both inside the city of Columbus and other major cities, that with her background, she could be a champion for cities on predatory lending and other municipal issues."
Bradley sighed when asked about the criticism that she was Taft's token selection as a running mate two years ago.
"I've heard that so many times in my professional career," Bradley said of the race question. "It's the burden of women and minorities."
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