Home Politics Ed FitzGerald to possibly replace Gov. Strickland

Ed FitzGerald to possibly replace Gov. Strickland

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After former governor Ted Strickland announced Tuesday that he would not seek election in the 2014 gubernatorial race, attention on the left side of the political spectrum has shifted to a man whose name is largely unknown outside the Cleveland area: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

FitzGerald, a former FBI agent who also served as mayor of the city of Lakewood, is a self-described “reformer” who opposes current governor John Kasich’s budget cuts. He has not made an official decision as to whether or not he will commit to running for governor, but he appears to be the strongest and most serious potential candidate for the Democrats so far.

“I’m very, very serious about it. I’ll be saying something pretty soon,” FitzGerald said Wednesday in an address to the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in Columbus. “…I can’t think of a greater honor that I can possibly have than to someday be the candidate of the Democratic Party as governor.”

FitzGerald has been preparing to possibly enter the gubernatorial race for almost a year now, but in a recent Plain Dealer article, he admitted that Strickland’s decision has “accelerated” his own thought process regarding whether or not he will run.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Strickland did not expand much on his reasoning behind his decision. Instead, he chose to fondly reminisce on several highlights of his administration.

“My administration was about positioning Ohio as a leader in our rapidly changing economy and global world,” Strickland wrote in his statement.

He went on to describe the significant progress his administration had made as far as rebuilding infrastructure, expanding affordable healthcare, regulating the costs of education, and working with President Obama to rescue the auto industry and therefore help rescue Ohio’s economy.

“In short, I believe my administration stood and spoke for the causes that count,” Strickland said.

The Ohio Democratic Party is keeping relatively quiet about the news. Director of Communications Jerid Kurtz said that Strickland and other top party leaders have declined all requests for interviews at this time.

Several other Democrats have expressed an interest in entering the gubernatorial race. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, and former Copley Township Congresswoman Betty Sutton are all potential candidates; however, the chances of any of them emerging as strong opposition to Kasich are slim to none.

Cordray currently serves as the head of President Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and it is unclear whether he will leave this job in Washington to return to Ohio and pursue a possible gubernatorial bid. Ryan was reappointed to the House Appropriations Committee and had previously stated that a reappointment would make him less likely to run for governor.

That being said, it appears that FitzGerald is the most likely nominee for the Democrats. And although most people outside of Northeast Ohio have never heard of him, chances are good that he will soon become a household name throughout the state.

The fact that FitzGerald leads the largest county in Ohio, which also happens to be strongly Democratic, certainly would not hurt his chances of winning, should he decide to run. An alum of the Ohio State University, he has been a force in Cleveland-area politics for nearly 15 years.

At his address in Columbus last week, he expressed optimism toward the possibility of expanding his horizons statewide and working more closely with party leaders.

“I just cannot do [this] without your assistance and your help,” he said at the event. “I really look forward to a conversation and getting to know you all the next couple of years.”

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