FitzGerald is on defensive in governor's race

Candidate fighting questions about why he lacked a permanent driver's license for more than a decade
Associated Press
Aug 10, 2014


Democrat Ed FitzGerald already had an uphill fight in his campaign to unseat a well-funded governor.

Now the little-known county executive is on the defensive over questions about why he lacked a permanent driver's license for more than a decade, an issue brought to the surface by 2012 police records that showed him in an otherwise empty parking lot outside an office park at 4:30 a.m. with a woman who isn't his wife.

FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, has apologized for letting his driver's license lapse from 2002 to 2012. He had several temporary permits starting in 2008, but he lacked one for at least a year until he got a license. He also says nothing inappropriate happened in the car, and police didn't cite him. The woman was part of a visiting Irish delegation, and they were trying to connect with others in the group traveling separately.

FitzGerald said opposition researchers seek the worst things to say about candidates during a campaign.

"I've been around for 46 years, and this was what they've come up with," he said Friday at an event in Port Clinton. "It doesn't mean I'm perfect because I'm not. But every candidate has their shortcomings and this is mine. And I don't offer any excuses about it."

The revelations come as FitzGerald should be trying to gain ground with voters less than three months before Election Day. Instead, he's had to devote time from campaigning to answer personal questions.

FitzGerald told supporters in an email Saturday that he regretted that those questions have detracted from pressing issues such as Lake Erie water quality.

"Instead, attention shifted to my carelessness, and that's entirely my fault," he wrote.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Toledo and nearby southeastern Michigan were unable to use tap water last weekend because of unsafe levels of a contaminant in Lake Erie.

A re-election victory for GOP Gov. John Kasich could give Republicans momentum in the presidential swing state and possibly propel Kasich, a former congressman and Fox News commentator, into the 2016 race for the White House.

FitzGerald, a former FBI agent and mayor of Lakewood, a Cleveland suburb, holds the highest elected position in Ohio's most populous county. Yet almost two-thirds of respondents in a July 24-28 Quinnipiac University poll said they don't know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion.

The poll of 1,366 registered voters found Kasich with a 12-point lead, 48 percent to FitzGerald's 36 percent.

Gerald Austin, a longtime Democratic consultant in Ohio, said it could be difficult for FitzGerald to win over voters who have just learned about him through the recent negative news.

"The only way he can turn this around is by a-wishin' and a-hopin' that something happens with Kasich that brings Kasich down," Austin said. Not a solid plan for winning, he said, but "this is only August and strange things have happened in campaigns."

Still, it could be too early in the race for Ohioans to develop any lasting impression of FitzGerald.

Most voters in gubernatorial elections don't pay much attention until after Labor Day, said John Green, director of the University of Akron's Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. He said FitzGerald's campaign has time to become more effective.

But Green said the driver's license issue could resonant voters: "Every 16-year-old knows you have to have a driver's license."

FitzGerald's personal troubles over the past week were compounded by fundraising figures that show he's woefully behind his opponent.

Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show Kasich raised about four times as much as FitzGerald in a roughly two-month span. The governor had $9.3 million in the bank, compared with FitzGerald's $1.9 million, according to June filings.

Green said FitzGerald doesn't have to match Kasich dollar-for-dollar but needs enough to get out his name and message.

"Up to this point, FitzGerald has not been able to put enough money into advertising to change his name recognition significantly," Green said.

Stuart Garson, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, said fundraising and messaging will always be tough.

"Because it's challenging doesn't make things impossible," Garson said. "Ed will stay on message. He's a great candidate."

Outside groups could help bolster FitzGerald's campaign, but he must show he's a viable candidate.

Kasich has released positive biographical TV ads about himself, while the Republican Governors Association has gone on the attack. A negative ad running statewide this week by the GOP organization portrays FitzGerald as a "risky" choice.

The campaign says FitzGerald has no plans to abandon the contest. Tuesday was the deadline for him to withdraw and allow the party to appoint a replacement.

Asked whether she foresaw any changes to the campaign's strategy, FitzGerald spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said, "Nope, we're just going to push forward."




LOL, this guy is a joke!

Blackberry Phale

Reporter: "Why no license, Ed?"

Ed: "I made a mistake."

Reporter: "Ed, the public wants to know."


Ed says, "he wasn't cited by police", after being caught in a car with a woman at 4:30am.

That doesn't mean he was not doing anything wrong. He is a cheater, cheaters are liars. If you are lying to your wife, you are lying to everyone.

Every time he drove a car with no license he was breaking the law. Just because he "never got cited" doesn't mean he didn't do anythything illegal.

Ed Fitzgerald is a sneaky, lying, law breaking politician. Next thing we'll see is the text messages he sent over to Ireland, of his teenie weenie.


I agree. One thing I've noticed in photos of deceptive politicians like Fitzgerald is a certain look in their eyes. It's as if they're under some delusion or trance and no one is home. I saw the same look in pictures of Jim Petro and in person when I met him so it's bi partisan.

looking around

Is that all they could come up with? No stained dress.


Trying to break the unions, that's a good resone for a lot of people to get Kasich out.


Why? Ask Detroit how unions helped them become the great city it is!


"Carelessness" to not have a driver's license for a decade? He had to know it and if he didn't know it, he's not qualified to run a household let alone a state.

The Big Dog's back

kassick has done nothing for Ohio. Maybe instead of being in bed with big money, he should try a little on the side. Maybe that way he will stop screwing the people of Ohio.

just observing

Got us out of a $8 billion deficient left by one term Teddy Strickland and reduced the income tax rate on working men and women. As for screwing the people, like Fitzy in the parking lot at 4:30AM with another women, helping her with her "GPS." Hey piddle pup since he seems to have a problem keeping his drivers license valid, why don't you drive him, but avoid the late night parking lots, unless you want to take one for the team.


@just observing.....facts won't change the mind of bighog. He just avoids them and moves on. Typical democrat.


@Just... Dog's time already is committed..

He keeps plenty busy around local 913...
Prestons boots are nice and shiny..

The Big Dog's back

Gee, any moron could cut school funding and local projects to "save" money. But the locals now have to pay more because we gave a tax cut to the rich. Isn't that just great.


"Just observing" says Kasich "reduced the income tax rate on working men and women" but for them the cuts were tiny and they're worse off because of the sales tax increase. Only the wealthy made out - they got huge cuts.


Typical thought by bighog. I guess morals aren't anything to people like you. Leftwingnut.

The Big Dog's back

Morals? Did kassick have morals when he sold people savings down the river while with Lehman brothers? Just as long as he has a "R" after his name he can do no wrong.


Yeah, Kasich has taken Ohio down a notch. But, Fitzgerald regretfully is not the person to replace him. It is too bad the Democratic Party could not find a better candidate.

The New World Czar

Fitzy is having problems getting support in his home county as is (or drawing crowds anywhere else). This won't be as much of a landslide as Voinovich-Burch, but Kasich wins easily.


People are simply looking to see who is worse. The cream will not rise to the top because those who are qualified have been chased away by the constant attacks by politicians, parties and brain-washed followers of the parties. You may like some of your party's agenda, maybe even all it's agenda, but you cannot deny that your party is not getting the job done or you are brain-washed. It's that simple.


Is this the best they can come up with? LOL Come on people this is LITTLE STUFF that they found out about Ed Fitzgerald..Give me something a little bigger than this for me not to vote for him...
Kasich is O U T !!!!!!!!


I'm looking for a reason I SHOULD vote for him. Haven't seen anything yet, all the guy does is attack kasich while not offering details on what makes him better????

The Big Dog's back

It only takes "little stuff" for little right wingnut minds. Heck, he could make them feel good as he's picking their pocket.


You might have more credibility if the first 5 words of your post did not contain the words "right wingnuts," There is a lot wrong on the right, but there is equally wrong on the left. You would be better served to offer up ideas and suggestions that the left have to offer rather than damnate those on the right as "wingnuts." The far left fringe of the left is equally as dangerous as the far right.

Blackberry Phale

Doggy, heard ya got reprimanded again yesterday for burning the fries at Burger King.




The only question that would show right or wrong is: did Fitzgerald drive a city or county vehicle with no drivers license?

If so that would be rather bad as the city or county would have been on the hook if he had been driving without a license... and most insurance companies would NOT cover the accident if that had happened. It shows lack of judgement on that account. Did he drive his own car without a license? Again lack of intelligence for the consiquences of your actions. Not someone you want in a leadership position. It ain't rocket science folks, ask any 15 or 16 year old about drivers licenses, it is not a secret thing that no one knows.


The answer is yes. He also had the stupidity to turn in mileage reports to be reimbursed.


D. Tracy is correct. The Plain Dealer articles included much more detail compared to this AP article, including the fact that he drove a county vehicle and turned in mileage from a personal vehicle.


The unions will make sure fitz gets plenty of votes...


As a child our household went years without a television. Our neighbors had no phone. Alas this was the farm community. Crops & land use were what mattered. The people will soon speak here. VOTE.

just observing

piddle pup, face it, you democrappers picked a candidate with no morals, can't understand how to keep a drivers license, cancelled a construction contract in Cuyahoga County and diverted it to a political ally at a higher cost to the taxpayers, picked a running mate that hasn't paid his taxes on a regular basis, has never finished the job he was elected too in two prior offices, and will drag down the remainder of the parties state candidates from the top, in conclusion, a perfect democrapper..


I'm impressed and surprised. As one who often criticizes the SR for their selective journalism, I must give them credit for running an article that actually disparages a Democratic candidate.


This AP article is very tame compared to what the Plain Dealer is running, which includes details about how he drove a county vehicle and turned in mileage expenses on a personal vehicle while not having a drivers license.

Blackberry Phale

No ID needed to vote, no ID needed to drive. That is what FitzGerald should have said.

Dr. Information

This turkey is cooked. Fitz doesn't stand a chance. Kasich is good for Ohio.


He's shady. Not good.


Does anyone else think this guy looks a lot like Chris Redfern??? The resemblance is uncanny. Also, since Redfern can't answer any questions about the shenanigans going on with the Put in Bay Police, and Fitzgerald can't answer any questions about why he didn't have a drivers license for 10 years, the resemblance is even more uncanny!


I think if they were not politicians, they would be lovers. They are two peas in a pod, perfect for each other.

But since it's not quite politically correct to be gay in politics they can't be together. They need to have the wife, kids and mini van to try to look "normal".