It appears that Ed FitzGerald will have an opponent in the Democratic primary for governor after all. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler talked with the candidate many people expected wouldn't qualify for the ballot - and most have never heard of.
Fifty-one-year-old Larry Ealy of the Dayton area describes himself as a civil rights advocate who says he’s been helping people in his community deal with legal issues. Ealy, who is currently unemployed, says he’s motivated by the economic troubles he sees.
“We have a problem with jobs, economics, financial, institutes – learning institutes," Ealy said. "Most minorities still today cannot receive loans and government benefits to help them with small business, and as governor, we're going to change all that.”
Ealy says he’s also worried about youth violence and guns, and wants to go into impoverished areas to – in his words – replace crack cocaine with paychecks, especially for jobless teens. And Ealy says he’s in the race to directly challenge Republican Gov. John Kasich’s economic policies.
“I’m not really looking at FitzGerald, per se," he said. "I’m looking at John Kasich. Because Kasich is the one who derailed citizens from several good-paying jobs by some things in the law that he shouldn’t have passed, and me and Kasich, we're going to have this showdown.”
Ealy admits his legal troubles and conflicts with police have also led him into the race. He says he wants to do something about what he calls the mass incarceration rate, and would support legalizing marijuana and releasing all non-violent offenders with diagnosed mental illnesses. And he says this campaign isn’t just a stunt.
"All the poor, black and minority communities have been deprived of all due process in the United States," he said. "And I’ll be the first black governor here in 203 years since this has been a state.”
But to challenge Kasich, he first has to beat Ed FitzGerald in the Democratic primary.
“I didn’t expect to run against FitzGerald," Ealy said. "I know nothing about him. But if he’s standing in the way of the first black governor, he’s got to go down."
Ealy says he has a campaign advisor, but admits he doesn’t have much of a campaign fund, and says so far, he’s been paying for his run for governor himself. But Ealy says he plans to go door to door and visit as many counties as he can before May.