FitzGerald campaign fizzles; Democrats to focus on downticket races

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald announced on Friday through his campaign that he would be “making a significant investment” in the Ohio Democratic Party’s voter turnout efforts and said that the “strategic shift in resources” will focus on turning out sporadic Democratic voters.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of only two Ohio Democrats to currently hold statewide office, said that while he’ll still vote for FitzGerald, his primary focus will be on getting Democrats elected in the down-ticket races.

“I don’t give up on anything. I know that (FitzGerald’s) race is very hard. Most of my efforts are aimed at the four others on the ticket,” Brown said Friday in Columbus.

Brown said his party’s statewide nominees — David Pepper for attorney general, John Patrick Carney for auditor, Nina Turner for secretary of state and Connie Pillich for treasurer — are “about the best group of four candidates that I’ve seen in my 30-plus years in this state in politics. I think they all have strengths that can enable them to win.”

Earlier this month, news broke that police found FitzGerald in a car at 4:30 a.m. in a secluded parking lot with a woman who was not his wife and then it came out that he did not have a proper driver’s license for roughly 10 years. While trying to recover from those negative news stories, FitzGerald blasted out a letter to supporters about how his oldest son’s cancer is still in remission — a topic that had previously been considered off-limits by the campaign.

On the heels of that, FitzGerald’s campaign manager, communications director and two consultants quit. On Friday, his campaign press secretary Lauren Hitt announced that she would stay on.

FitzGerald is still pledging to run a “vocal, competitive” campaign against Kasich but he faces huge hurdles. Kasich leads the race by 12 points among registered voters, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, and the governor has $11.4 million in cash on hand compared with FitzGerald’s $2.44 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Hitt said the campaign would not disclose how much money will be moving to the get out the vote operations or to support other down ticket Democrats.

FitzGerald has aired two campaign commercials so far but that might be the last voters see of him in TV ads. The Columbus Dispatch reported that FitzGerald said during a campaign stop this week that he did not know if his campaign would have the money to run another TV ad.

FitzGerald is a former FBI agent who also served as an assistant county prosecutor and mayor of Lakewood. He is currently the Cuyahoga County executive.

State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, who is running against Republican Jon Husted, said while the news from FitzGerald’s camp has been bad, “We are not going to give up. We are going to keep running.”

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