Wayne County 2013 Jackson Day Banquet

Governor hopeful Fitzgerald Speaks at Wayne Jackson Day dinner

By BOBBY WARREN, The Daily Record

Bryan Haynes

Bryan Haynes accepts his Ruby Award from Jim Bird at the Wayne County Jackson Day dinner on April 28. (photo courtesy of The Daily Record)

ORRVILLE — To become Ohio’s next governor, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said he will have to run an issues-based, substantive campaign.

FitzGerald, 44, was the keynote speaker at the 158th consecutive Wayne County Jackson Day Dinner on Saturday at The Pines.

Growing up, FitzGerald’s parents taught him to work hard, not to forget where he came from, take care of his family and when he saw something wrong, try to fix it.

Well, FitzGerald said he saw something wrong in 2010 after Republican governors, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, were elected and they started pursuing the same issues, like limiting collective bargaining. They got elected on a message of: The economy is bad, it’s the Democrats’ fault and Obamacare is bad and will ruin the country.

A recent poll shows the Democratic candidate is close to Kasich, FitzGerald said.

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll from early April showed Kasich held a 46 percent-37 percent lead over FitzGerald, who announced Wednesday he is running for governor. The same poll showed Kasich also with more support than former state attorney general and current U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, 45 percent-38 percent.

Given 70 percent of the state does not know him, FitzGerald indicated the numbers are promising. “Kasich is in trouble,” he said, noting the incumbent governor has a much greater name recognition.

While voters agree with Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid, FitzGerald said it shouldn’t be a surprise Republican lawmakers are not supporting it, especially after spending the past few years bashing health care reform.

Part of FitzGerald’s strategy will be to show how communities have been affected by cuts to the local government fund, which has resulted in tough choices having to be made at the local level at a time when the state’s revenues are improving.

“We have to hold (Kasich) accountable,” FitzGerald said, adding the governor is out of touch. He said Kasich proposed an expansion of the sales tax in his budget, but now is not the time to do it. “Would would do that?” he asked. “It makes no sense.”

“I liked what he had to say,” said Betsy Sheets, chairwoman of the Wayne County Democratic Party. “It’s what we need to have happen.”

State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Cincinnati-area Democrat, also addressed the group. The Air Force veteran indicated she is considering a run for treasurer.

Pillich decided to get involved in politics after seeing what she described as a “culture of corruption in Columbus” about seven years ago.

“I knew I had to stand up,” Pillich said, and despite having her district lines redrawn and facing the founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party, “I am still standing.”

Receiving the Old Hickory Award were Ruth Vandersall for her efforts in raising awareness about sustainable energy practices, former Wooster Councilwoman Barb Hustwit for her public service and Janet Dailey for her prolific letters to the editor supporting Democratic causes and candidates.

Receiving the Ruby Bishop Award for meritorious service were Bryan Haynes, who led Sen. Sherrod Brown’s ground game here and Gloria Mohr, who went to every street in Wooster once campaigning for President Barack Obama.

Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or bwarren@the-daily-record.com. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.