CLEVELAND - The decision by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland not to enter the 2014 race for Ohio governor has cleared the way for several Democrats to begin testing the waters. Count Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald among them.
“I have given it some thought and I talked with some folks across the state,” FitzGerald said Tuesday. “I'm not ready to make an announcement yet. I probably will make a decision one way or the other in the first quarter of this year.”
FitzGerald said Strickland called him to tell him of his decision not to challenge the man who unseated him in 2010, Gov. John Kasich, but stopped short of urging FitzGerald or any other Democrat to run.
“I don't think he's ready to say anything yet about what his preferences are. I mean, he has a definite point of view that we need a new governor,” he said. “He wants to help with that, but whether or not he wants to get behind a particular candidate yet, that's for him to say.”
What FitzGerald will now do is reach out to state Democratic leaders in an effort to gauge their interest in his potential candidacy.
"I'm having some meetings with people across the state because you got to run a campaign that touches every single county and every single corner of the state,” he said.
“It's a big enterprise to undertake and you shouldn't do it lightly and to run against an incumbent governor is a big challenge so I'm trying to see if those pieces would fit together."
Names of other Democrats that have come up as potential candidates include former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton as well as Congressman Tim Ryan.
“They'll be three or four people, I think, that will kind of ask for some consideration and I'll be one of them,” FitzGerald said adding that the party will likely quickly fall in line behind one candidate and likely avoid a primary.
“I think there's going to be a lot of pressure within the Democratic Party not to have a primary and whether or not that would mean that I would not have a primary or whether it would mean that I should step out of it, you know, it's too soon to say.”
“It's just tough to defeat an incumbent governor especially and have a primary at the same time. That's a tall order,” he said.
As a bellwether state, the pendulum of Ohio politics has swung back and forth; 2006 and 2008 good years for Democrats, 2010 a Republican sweep, 2012 back to Democrats with top of the ticket victories for President Barack Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown.
"You have to look at it, but I think you drive yourself crazy if you try to figure it out,” FitzGerald said. “In 2014, it doesn't mean necessarily it's going to go one way or the other.”
“If you try to guess two years in advance how people are going to feel I think that's kind of a foolish game to get involved in,” he said.
FitzGerald hopes to have his decision on that by April at the latest.
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