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Published: Wednesday, 5/7/2014

FitzGerald sets up showdown with Kasich

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
FitzGerald FitzGerald
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COLUMBUS — Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald was eager Tuesday night to get about the business of taking on Republican Gov. John Kasich after easily dispatching primary election opponent Larry Ealy.

The FitzGerald campaign saw the Ealy challenge as little more than a nuisance and ultimately the Trotwood man delivered little more than that.

Tuesday night’s vote tally showed Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald had overwhelmingly defeated Mr. Ealy.

Mr. FitzGerald never mentioned Mr. Ealy as he spoke Tuesday night at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters about what he considers the real race in 181 days.

“Here’s the most basic question that every public official has to answer. ... Who do you work for?” he said. 

“We have a governor ... who’s working for a very small group of people who are doing very, very well, and they don’t need government to help them, but they’re happy to take the benefits of government when it’s to their own financial benefit.”

Mr. FitzGerald, 45, former FBI special agent and Lakewood mayor, has been running for more than a year.

He entered the race with the state party machine’s endorsement, the backing of most labor organizations, and money to spend — at least in comparison to Mr. Ealy, 51, who tried to run a campaign on a shoestring.

During the campaign Mr. FitzGerald rarely mentioned his primary opponent, but focused on the general election contest with Mr. Kasich.

The disabled former tow truck driver and self-proclaimed civil rights activist did a handful of media interviews and relied chiefly on appearances at local government meetings for any cable-access television coverage he could get.

Mr. FitzGerald, focused on the battle ahead, accused the governor of engaging in a war on women by restricting access to abortion services, attacking organized labor, and putting local governments in the position of raising taxes while they boast of lowering taxes at the state level.

“If you have a governor that feels the economy is a miracle, it means he is completely cut off from the reality of how most of those people live,” Mr. FitzGerald said.

Mr. Ealy focused primarily on race, arguing that blacks have been deprived of an opportunity to vote for an African-American Democratic governor.

He is believed to be the first black candidate to appear on an official Democratic ballot for governor, even though he registered with the party in Montgomery County for the first time last year and has no recent voting history there.

Mr. FitzGerald’s campaign coffers, with $1.5 million in the bank, are woefully bare compared to Mr. Kasich’s $8.5 million.

Mr. Kasich is making the case that his job-creation efforts, tax cuts, and budgetary decisions are improving the state's economic bottom line.

“Ohio’s path forward is built on the pro-jobs, pro-growth policies Governor Kasich has implemented, not on the kind of far-left, tax-and-spend policies by which Ed FitzGerald governs Cuyahoga County and which would surely cripple the now-thriving state,” said Phil Cox, Republican Governors Association’s executive director.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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