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Fitzgerald Focuses On Kasich, Not Long-Shot Primary Opponent
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There is a primary on Tuesday’s Democratic primary ballot.
But it’s not expected to be much of a contest.
There are two names on the Democratic primary ballot â€“ in alphabetical order, Larry Ealy and Ed FitzGerald.
For FitzGerald, the former FBI agent and current Cuyahoga County Executive whoâ€™s been running as a Democrat for governor for more than a year, the contest isnâ€™t this week against Ealy â€“ itâ€™s this November against incumbent Republican John Kasich.
â€œIâ€™m not sure thereâ€™s a campaign behind the name, and so we havenâ€™t spent a lot of time talking about that,” Fitzgerald says.
“We think we do have a serious opponent in the general election and thatâ€™s why we spend most of our time comparing ourselves to who we think the Republican nominee is going to be.â€
And though Ealy is on the ballot, he has no website, no campaign logo or slogan and has held no fundraisers or official events. The unemployed Dayton area man has filed no campaign finance reports or paperwork other than the 1,321 signatures he turned in to run for governor. He doesnâ€™t have a social media presence, a campaign staff or office.
This story would have included his official campaign photo, but he doesn’t have one.
All these things make it very unlikely heâ€™ll get more than a small percentage of votes. But obviously, thatâ€™s not the way Ealy sees it.
â€œYes, I mean I donâ€™t see why I canâ€™t beat FitzGerald. Until we get a black governor, weâ€™ll never have equal protection, equal due process â€“ thereâ€™s a slew of things that are lacking in Ohio for the last 211 years.â€
Ealy talks about legalizing marijuana, about increasing youth employment, about offering loans to minority-owned businesses, about cutting taxes for the elderly and about bringing passenger train service into Ohio.
FitzGerald, whoâ€™s under the pressure of knowing that he likely will be facing a well-funded and very visible incumbent in the fall, talks more about Kasichâ€™s ideas that he feels arenâ€™t working â€“ namely, his economic policies and his cuts to public education and local governments.
â€œI think all of that adds up to the very strong sense that a lot of people in Ohio have that Ohio has been run basically for the benefit of the governorâ€™s friends and a few people at the top and the rest of Ohio is on the outside looking in and they want a different direction than that,” Fitzgerald says.
That leads to the issue of money. FitzGerald has around $1.5 million â€“ Kasich has $8.5 million, a five-to-one advantage. Ealy doesnâ€™t have much to say about money â€“ because he doesnâ€™t have much. Ealy was a bodybuilder turned exotic dancer in the 80s and most recently was a tow truck driver.
But he hasnâ€™t worked in many years, and has spent muhc of that time learning about the law and filing lawsuits â€“ so many that heâ€™s been labeled a vexatious litigator. But Ealy says in spite of all the things that have been written and said about him, he says heâ€™s real.
â€œYou ainâ€™t going to find no realer person. Iâ€™m down to earth. Iâ€™m home-grown. This is all real. Iâ€™m not a copy â€“ Iâ€™m the blueprint.â€
Ealy says he wants a debate with FitzGerald, but FitzGerald says he considers a meeting of both candidates with the editorial board of the Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group last month as close to a debate as there will be in this race.