Ohio Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, left, is en-dorsed by Ken Lortz, right, UAW Region 2B director.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Ed FitzGerald, the leading Democratic candidate to run against Republican Gov. John Kasich this November, told supporters Thursday at the United Auto Workers headquarters in Maumee that if elected, he would veto any right-to-work bill that gets passed.
Mr. FitzGerald also touched on the auto bailout, which he said Mr. Kasich opposed. It is another hot-button issue of Ohio labor unions.
“Not only did John Kasich fail to support the auto rescue, he and other supporters of S.B. 5 worked to weaken unions across the state and make it even more difficult for hardworking Ohioans to negotiate for good-paying jobs,” Mr. FitzGerald said.
Ken Lortz, director of UAW’s Region 2B, which includes Ohio and Indiana, said he was endorsing Mr. FitzGerald on behalf of the UAW’s political action committee. He said the decision to endorse — and the intent to do it publicly — was discussed months ago, and the timing of Thursday’s news event was just a matter of scheduling. Still, it comes after the state’s umbrella organization for the construction and trades unions signaled it was thinking of throwing its support behind Mr. Kasich.
The group Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio, a subsidiary of the Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, contributed the maximum amount of $12,156 to Mr. Kasich’s campaign, according to a recent campaign report, and nothing to Mr. FitzGerald.
Mr. FitzGerald said the vast majority of unions, including many in the construction industry, are supporting him.
He said Mr. Kasich’s support of Senate Bill 5 in 2011 is indicative of what the governor will try to do in a second term because the governor did not disclose his plans before he was elected.
“Anything like Senate Bill 5 will be vetoed if it comes to my desk,” Mr. FitzGerald said, specifically vowing to veto a right-to-work bill, which has already been introduced in the General Assembly.
Mr. Kasich has said right-to-work is not part of his agenda for a second term.
With so many auto manufacturing plants in Ohio, the 2009 federal auto bailout that Republicans generally opposed is already surfacing as another key issue for Mr. FitzGerald, just as it was for Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in his failed re-election campaign of 2010. Since then, the wisdom of the bailout has been proven, Mr. FitzGerald and Mr. Lortz said.
“When the auto industry needed a hand, Governor Kasich’s response was, ‘we shouldn’t throw good money after bad,’ ” Mr. Lortz said. “It’s no secret the positive effect the auto industry has had in the United States of America and right here in Ohio.”
Mr. Kasich was not in public office then but said on Fox News in 2008 that “if they're not going to be viable, we shouldn’t throw good money after bad.” Spokesman Rob Nichols has said Mr. Kasich never opposed the bailout.
Chris Schrimpf, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said that under Mr. Kasich, American automakers have reinvested heavily in Ohio.
“Since the governor took office 6,800 auto manufacturing jobs have been created. FitzGerald may not know it because he has been so busy running for one office after another and probably just reads whatever talking points are handed to him, but the Kasich administration has strongly supported Ford, GM, and Honda and he has traveled to Detroit multiple times to demonstrate how important the industry is to the state and to secure new investments,” Mr. Schrimpf said.