The bad headlines for Ed Fitzgerald’s first big decision of his campaign just keep coming.
We raised the idea before Thanksgiving that Kearney would be dropped from the ticket among all of the bad news about his unpaid taxes. Ohio media was quick to start questioning the same thing, but Fitzgerald has been insistent that he knew about the debts all along, picked him anyway, and is not going to change his mind.
But as the trainwreck that is Fitzgerald’s choice continues to undermine his qualifications to be governor, now talk is arising that Kearney may decide to quit the ticket himself.
The trickling out of details about the personal and business debt of expected Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s running mate is raising questions as to the extent of the campaign’s vetting process.
“I would not be surprised if FitzGerald announces that Kearney has asked to be removed from the ticket. That’s politician-speak for ‘we forced him out’,” said Mark Weaver, a GOP strategist who is not involved in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
He said it raises questions about Mr. FitzGerald’s vetting process.
“He has argued that his background as an FBI agent was one of the reasons he is qualified for governor,” Mr. Weaver said.
Henry Gomez of the Plain Dealer, right in Fitzgerald’s back yard, continues to raise important questions:
What could have been a one-day story raged on because Kearney and Team FitzGerald were not forthcoming about his debts. And when reporters from across Ohio kept asking simple questions about how much Kearney owes in unpaid taxes, the campaign not only had incomplete answers, it had to seek additional documentation from outside sources.
That raised another question: Why didn’t FitzGerald have that information already?
So much for Eddy Fitz the crack FBI agent. First, he says he knew everything about Kearney’s tax problems, and then turns around and says we don’t have all the information yet.
The biggest blow to Fitzgerald’s campaign, however, also came from the Plain Dealer. Mark Naymik doesn’t mince words. He urges Kearney to quit the ticket before it’s too late.
State Sen. Eric Kearney, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, should drop out of the 2014 gubernatorial race for his own sake.
This well-liked and reasonable politician from Cincinnati has a bright future. But it dims every day that he insists his tax problems related to a business he owns with his wife are irrelevant in a statewide bid.
The campaign spins the issue this way: The tax problems, described as a “shortfall,” were created by the bookkeeping errors of a now-deceased employee and by a rogue business partner. These are typical challenges small businesses face. Kearney and his wife have taken responsibility by paying down the company’s unpaid taxes. Kearney and his wife chose to keep their company going – and people employed – rather than walk away.
These arguments don’t entirely hold up.
Running a small business is valuable experience and there’s nobility in an owner’s fight to keep a company alive. But the campaign is overplaying this theme. The campaign held out Kearney’s small business experience as a pillar of his qualifications when he was introduced as FitzGerald’s running mate. Since then, the campaign has said Kearney was not responsible for the day-to-day operations.
Of course, all of this backs up what we’ve been saying all along. Fitzgerald is in over his head, and was low on the list of desired candidates for the Ohio Democratic Party. He will get the nomination because nobody else wanted it.
He isn’t ready to be governor. This disastrous rollout shows that his judgment is questionable. Ohio doesn’t need that, nor does it need a serious tax delinquent in the number 2 spot.