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Ed FitzGerald Says His Campaign for Governor Still Has an Argument to Make

Ed FitzGerald speaks at a press conference earlier this year. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
Ed FitzGerald speaks at a press conference earlier this year. (Nick Castele / ideastream)

(Hear Karen Kasler's interview with Gov. John Kasich.)

A lot of the talk around Ed FitzGerald has been about him and his campaign troubles. But FitzGerald said he’s still running a full-on charge against Republican incumbent John Kasich, who he says has cut money to schools while demanding more of them, such as with the third grade reading guarantee.

“Standards are fine," FitzGerald said, "but standards should not be imposed on school districts at the same time that you’re robbing those same schools districts of the resources to implement those standards.”

And he blasted Kasich’s claims that he’s a tax cutter.

“It’s just disingenuous for Gov. Kasich to say, well, I balanced the budget and didn’t raise taxes," he said "He did raise taxes. He raised the CAT tax. He raised taxes on, property taxes through the homestead exemption retrenchment. He raised sales taxes.”

While FitzGerald is critical of Kasich’s tax cuts that he says favor the wealthy, FitzGerald said it’s not part of his plan to take those back. FitzGerald said he considers himself a fiscal conservative, and that a tax increase would be – in his words – “a last resort."

But like Kasich, FitzGerald won’t release a specific financial blueprint that he’ll promise to follow to the letter.

“What I don’t think you have a responsibility to do as governor, a candidate for governor, is to release an entire alternative budget," FitzGerald sald. "What I do think you should tell voters is, these are going to be my top priorities. And to me, that’s restoring local government funding and making more of an investment in education. And I think we can do that under our current tax structure.”

FitzGerald blasted JobsOhio as an under-reported scandal, and said Kasich’s promises on jobs haven’t been kept because Ohio’s job creation is below the national average. But while FitzGerald said he would prefer the traditional model of an accountable public agency for economic development, but said he’s not sure he would dismantle JobsOhio, though he said he would make it more transparent and accountable.

But as expected, FitzGerald isn’t as eager to discuss other things about his campaign, such as the 2012 police report about being in a dark parked car early in the morning with a woman he’s not married to and the subsequent revelation that he didn’t have a valid driver’s license for a decade – or about the unflattering comments Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern made about him recently.

“If that’s all we’re going to talk about, we’re really dumbing everything down," FitzGerald said. "I don’t make any excuses or try to explain things away. Everybody makes mistakes and that was a mistake and yes, you should get your driver’s license renewed. Are we seriously going to have an election that that’s supposed to be one of the primary issues?”

FitzGerald dismissed a lot of the reporting about his campaign controversies as “Peyton Place gossip stuff” and “silly” when compared to economic crises he’s heard from people he’s talked to.

“I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every single day of the campaign," he said. "But the reason that I have never regretted running, and the reason that I’m proud of the way the campaign has conducted itself is we talk about what we believe in. And we’re trying to speak up for people that haven’t been represented in the last four years. And that’s very, very important.”

FitzGerald also said Kasich’s announcement that debate discussions are over is a sign of the governor's “arrogance," and that he’s ready to debate the Republican incumbent at any time.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.