Pam Weirauch, owner of Pam’s Corner, greets Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald at her restaurant in down-town Toledo, where he met with about 40 supporters Thursday.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Ed FitzGerald, the only Democratic candidate so far for Ohio governor in 2014, campaigned Thursday in a downtown Toledo restaurant, where he said a key to victory is to make the Republican incumbent, Gov. John Kasich, address the real issues rather than be “vague.”
Outside Pam’s Corner restaurant on 10th Street, a group of local Republicans held signs to mock Mr. FitzGerald’s choice to visit Ohio’s three largest cities on the first day of his announcement tour rather come to one of the “other Ohio” cities.
Mr. FitzGerald told about 40 supporters that Mr. Kasich won in 2010 in part by sticking to one message: “The economy has gone downhill and it’s Ted Strickland’s fault.”
“We’ve got 18 months to have a conversation with people in Ohio. Let’s make this about the issues. Governor Kasich does best when people don’t talk about the issues too much,” Mr. FitzGerald said. He said the governor’s real plans were to privatize government services, suppress Democratic votes, shift the tax burden to local taxpayers in favor of the wealthy, and undermine labor.
In response to a question from Democratic fund-raiser Jerry Chabler, Mr. FitzGerald predicted Mr. Kasich will support a right-to-work bill if he gets re-elected.
“My opinion is that commitment has already been made by the governor. I don’t think there’s any question about it,” he said.
His campaign will hold town-hall meetings to develop a Toledo agenda, he added.
“I’m going to be relying on people in this room to help me put that together. It’s going to be based off the strengths of the local economy, I can tell you that. The Toledo area has a really skilled work force. They have some real ability in manufacturing. If you look more broadly at this area of Ohio, you can talk about strengths in the agriculture sector,” Mr. FitzGerald said.
He said he believes he stands a good chance of getting elected, saying Mr. Kasich has weaker poll numbers now than Mr. Strickland did four years ago.
In response, Matt Henderson of the Ohio Republican Party, said, “Getting Ohioans back on track after Ohio bled out nearly 400,000 jobs while Democrats were in charge was the fundamental issue in 2010 and thanks to Governor Kasich today, we’re up 115,000 jobs. Maybe if Democrats hadn’t sat on their hands during that time, Ohioans wouldn’t have kicked them to the curb.”
Outside the building, a handful of Republicans held signs showing a map of Ohio with Toledo marked with a large X. County GOP Chairman Jon Stainbrook said the group was there “to remind Ed FitzGerald that Toledo does exist, it’s on the map, it’s right here.”
“You have a candidate that can’t even figure out what part of the state he should announce in and then decides after the fact when The Toledo Blade points out that Toledo was left out, neglected,” Mr. Stainbrook said.
The FitzGerald campaign announced last week its plan to hold campaign events in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus on Wednesday, telling reporters off the record that Mr. FitzGerald would visit Toledo and other cities on Thursday, although the announcement was not made publicly until Wednesday. The campaign also stopped Thursday in Dayton, Lima, and Bowling Green, and is to continue today in Youngstown and Marietta and Saturday in Zanesville and Athens.
Mr. FitzGerald said he’s been in Toledo about a half dozen times, including at least two public events, since he started planning a race for governor. “When Governor Kasich announced in Toledo, it was not the first day or the second day,” Mr. FitzGerald said.
The FitzGerald campaign may have had solid political reason to visit the Three-C corridor that stretches along I-71: the counties in the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati media markets in 2012 accounted for 69 percent of all the votes.
Cathy Johns of Sylvania, a homemaker and campaign volunteer who introduced the candidate, said she was excited about Mr. FitzGerald’s entry into the race.
“I think [victory] is well within reach,” Ms. Johns said. She did’t feel snubbed by Mr. FitzGerald’s choice to make his first round of announcements in the state’s three largest cities Wednesday.
“I didn’t read that into it at all,” she said. “He could only be in three cities in one day. If we’re looking at those things, we’re getting pretty petty.” She said that if 70 percent of the voters are in the Three-C’s media markets, “then that was probably a smart decision on his part.”
His listeners included local elected officials inclu-ding Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and City Councilman Joe McNamara, the two Democratic dandidates for Toledo mayor.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.