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Major staff shakeup in FitzGerald campaign

Campaign manager, communications director leave troubled campaign less than 2 months before early voting begins in Ohio governor’s race.

Two top aides to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald have left his campaign, as the struggling challenger to Ohio Gov. John Kasich readjusts his strategy less than 50 days before early voting begins.

Campaign manager Nick Buis and communications director Daniel McElhatton departed Tuesday, said campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt. Hitt said further staff announcements are expected by Friday.

She said the campaign of FitzGerald and running mate Sharen Neuhardt, an attorney from Yellow Springs, remains focused on spreading its message that Ohio’s economic rebound under Kasich hasn’t done enough for the poor and middle-class. She said landing “a couple debates” remains a goal.

“The campaign will undergo some staff and administrative changes this week in order to maximize our resources and provide the best chance for Ed, Sharen and the entire Democratic slate in November,” she said.

The changes come as FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, has been barraged with criticism over the fact he lacked a permanent driver’s license for more than a decade and over the evolving details he and other parties have provided about police records from two years ago that showed him in a parking lot at 4:30 a.m. with a woman who isn’t his wife. Both FitzGerald and the woman have said nothing inappropriate happened.

Buis joined FitzGerald’s team after running President Barack Obama’s successful Florida campaign in 2012. McElhatton came on board in February, as part of a new communications team on the heels of state Sen. Eric Kearney’s brief stint as FitzGerald’s running mate before revelations he owed about $1 million in unpaid taxes.

FitzGerald had about $2.4 million on hand in July compared to Kasich’s $11.4 million.

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