Dem candidate for governor in Van Wert
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Democrat candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald, who spoke to a small group of area residents and media in Fountain Park on Sunday, knows he’s in for a fight in taking on incumbent Governor John Kasich, but added that he’s used to being the underdog.
“Chances are I’m going to be outspent by my opponent,” FitzGerald told the crowd Sunday in Fountain Park. “Every race I’ve ever gotten into in my life … I was always the first candidate in, because I knew I was going to be outspent and I have to make up for that by working hard.”
FitzGerald, a former FBI agent who fought organized crime in Chicago, is now the first county executive for Cuyahoga County. He was a former assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, who also served as the mayor of the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, as well as being a member of Lakewood’s city council.
The 45-year-old Democrat has already been in 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties, noting that, because this is his first run for state office, he wants people to get to know him and what he stands for.
“I think I’m somebody who is fiscally responsible, that I’m somebody with a background in making government work for average people,” FitzGerald said, noting that, although he is a Democrat, he feels those qualities are ones that residents in conservative areas such as Van Wert County can appreciate.
“I’m somebody whose roots are in the middle class,” added the Democrat, who is the seventh of eight children. “My wife and I are raising four kids; we know what it’s like to struggle in this economy.”
FitzGerald also said his background as a prosecutor and former FBI agent also means he puts a priority on law enforcement, while being a former mayor and a current county administrator shows he knows about the problems faced by Ohio communities.
FitzGerald also blasted his opponent on several fronts, especially his state budget efforts that the Democrat said has resulted in the loss of $5 million to governments and schools in Van Wert County alone.
“I think it’s reckless the way he’s taken money out of local schools and out of local governments and sent it down to Columbus,” the Democratic challenger said.
FitzGerald also criticized Kasich’s JobsOhio organization, noting that, in his opinion, it’s wrong to use public money to fund a private economic development organization and stating that JobsOhio would be much more open if he was governor. “It wouldn’t be secretive … we have a big job creation program (in Cuyahoga County) and it’s all transparent,” he said. “Nothing good comes out of spending public money in a secretive way.”
FitzGerald, who also visited Defiance, Paulding and Fulton counties on Sunday, said he planned to revisit all 88 Ohio counties when the gubernatorial campaign begins in earnest next year.
“We will contest all counties,” he noted, while adding that he plans to have a campaign organization in every county. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to win all 88, but we’re going to go to all of them, and we’ll give it our best shot in every single area.”
The Cuyahoga County resident said he was optimistic at this point, citing state polls that show him leading Kasich by 3 percentage points, after earlier polls put him behind by 10 points. Of course, FitzGerald said he knows it is early in the campaign, but said he feels he has a realistic shot at unseating the Republican incumbent.
“The polls show people don’t really approve of this governor,” FitzGerald said, noting that Kasich only defeated former governor Ted Strickland by 77,000 votes. “Even his good polls don’t have him with a very high approval rating.”
He said the problem, at this point, is that many Ohioans don’t know what the alternative is to another four years of the Kasich administration. “I just have to start that conversation as early as possible,” he said.
“I believe in good government — open and transparent government — and I don’t think we’ve had that in the last couple of years,” FitzGerald said on Sunday.