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Strickland backing FitzGerald for governor

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland is backing fellow Democrat Ed FitzGerald in the 2014 race for governor against Republican incumbent John Kasich, saying FitzGerald is “squeaky clean” and a proven leader for middle class families.

Strickland, who in January announced he would not seek a rematch against Kasich, sent out a mass email, appeared in a video posted on the FitzGerald campaign website and held a media conference call on Monday to announce his support. He pledged to raise money and campaign for FitzGerald.

When asked why he didn’t throw his support behind FitzGerald in January, Strickland said he has since gotten to know the Cuyahoga County executive and seen him campaign across the state.

“Ed has done the work. He has shown that he merits the support of all Democrats in Ohio, including me,” Strickland said. Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which cleared all questions about whether Cordray would return to Ohio to run for governor.

Strickland lost to Kasich in the 2010 race by a less than 80,000 votes. Strickland said he believes FitzGerald is better positioned to turn out votes in the Cleveland area, the state’s Democratic stronghold.

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Schrimpf said in a written statement: “With today’s endorsement Ted Strickland says that Ed FitzGerald is the best candidate to carry on his legacy of job loss, record high unemployment, and a budget shortfall of billions of dollars. Given Strickland’s failed, scandal-plagued record it’s no surprise that FitzGerald doesn’t want to be seen with Strickland.”

FitzGerald and Kasich are due to report the campaign fundraising numbers on Wednesday to the Ohio Secretary of State. Strickland noted that Kasich reported raising a little over $500,000 at this point in the campaign four years ago — a signal that Democrats expect FitzGerald to do as well. Still, if that’s what FitzGerald reports, it’ll likely be dwarfed by what the sitting governor has in his coffers. In January, Kasich’s campaign reported a $2.13 million cash balance.

FitzGerald trails Kasich 47 percent to 33 percent in the latest poll from Quinnipiac University. In June, the poll found that Kasich’s job approval rating is 54 percent favorable and 49 percent of voters say he deserves to be re-elected.

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