The FitzGeräld campaign has hit rock bottom. From the word “go,” they’ve stumbled over the easiest of political tasks, received lukewarm support from Democrat activists, and had the worst Lt. Gov. rollout in the country. All of this has culminated with the suggestion from a longtime and respected Democrat consultant that it’s time to end the Fitz Experiment:
In an interview with WKSU’s Karen Kasler, we learn that Austin was one of the Democrats criticizing Ed Fitzgerald for his choice of Eric Kearney as his running mate, even though he knew about Kearney’s tax issues.
One of them is retired Democratic consultant Gerald Austin, who says there’s no way to completely undo the damage since Kearney’s tax problems went public.
“It can’t. It already looks bad. The first thing you always want to do when you’re picking a running mate is not to have stories that are going on for a week about, ‘Why’d you pick him when you knew the information?’ And that’s happened now.”
Then today, the Dispatch’s Joe Vardon talked with national political pundit Larry Sabato, confirming that Fitzy is dead in the water:
“We made an early bet on Gov. John Kasich, and everything I’ve seen kind of confirms it,” said University of Virginia political-science professor Larry Sabato, who handicaps governors’ and other political races. Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists the 2014 race between the Republican Kasich and FitzGerald as “likely Republican.”
“It’s been amateur hour,” Sabato said. “It’s rare to beat an incumbent in Ohio, and to beat an incumbent you almost have to do everything right. What FitzGerald has done here gives the early impression of incompetence, of not being ready for prime time.”
Amateur hour, huh? Seems like something we’ve said before…
All signs point to a huge overreaction by Fitzy’s campaign, and the entire thing smacks of political immaturity. Watching this unfold has been nothing short of amateur hour, and one has to think that big dollar donors and other campaign supporters have noticed.
When Democrat strategists are abandoning you, and nationally respected political gurus have you pegged as Dead-On-Arrival, that’s a recipe for an embarrassing defeat come November. Even the Franklin County Democrat Chairman agreed that this would cost Fitzy financial support:
“In the short term, there is no doubt when you’re dealing with an issue like this (Kearney) that there is a drain on donors,” said Greg Haas, Franklin County Democratic chairman.
And to cap it all off, this morning the Akron Beacon Journal—one of Ohio’s most liberal newspapers—questioned if Fitz was ready and a local Cleveland TV station opined that he’s a complete mess:
From the ABJ:
FitzGerald pledged that with Kearney’s business taxes no longer center stage, he would devote his attention to “how we can refocus “state policies to benefit working people and middle-class families.” What Democrats have reason to ask is whether Ed FitzGerald is ready and equipped to carry the message.
As a conservative, I think I can answer that one for you: NO. How about a quick recap of Fitzy’s campaign over the last year?
- He’s an overly ambitious Diva who can’t spell his own name;
- He had no money coming in to the race and due to lack of big dollar union support, has shown no fundraising prowess whatsoever;
- He’s been caught on tape ignoring constituents in favor of playing around on Facebook, where he apparently is buying followers;
- His first official campaign move flopped when he got the date wrong on his first campaign press release, touting campaign rallies that were attended by just about no one;
- He’s exaggerated his brief FBI career, all while ignoring and hiding crucial information from his own Cuyahoga County council members, who simply don’t trust him;
- Despite campaigning for almost an entire year, he has almost no name ID in the state;
- He bungled his only talking point on government transparency, and avoided transparency with his own government;
- He’s had an issue with pay-to-play, drawing comparisons to the jailed Jimmy Dimora;
- His campaign has engaged in a war on women, first by firing his female campaign spokesperson and now by hating on a reporter for doing her job;
- He wants to raise Ohio’s income tax;
- And now he’s fumbled the biggest decision his campaign has made thus far with the Kearney debacle.
Any one of those issues make for a powerful campaign commercial—add them all together, and that’s a shipwreck of epic proportions. Enough so, that Democrats are starting to give serious consideration to dumping Fitz§erald and starting from scratch with a more skilled candidate.
Problem is, Democrats just don’t have one, as their bench is pitifully lacking.
Democrat consultant Gerald Austin floated State Rep. Connie Pillich, but at this point, a lot of Democrats have to think that just about any quasi-prominent Ohio Democrat and he or she would be a superior choice to the mess that Fitzy’s created. Unfortunately for them, it’s just not true.
Austin likes Pillich, so why not let her have a shot? Because she only has about $291,000 on hand, putting her at a severe disadvantage to Governor Kasich’s war chest. Not to mention, she’d all but kill any chance at statewide office down the road.
Betty Sutton stepped aside, but given the past month or so, maybe she is reconsidering? Doubtful, as she was never a stellar fundraiser, putting her at the same disadvantage as Pillich.
There’s always Jennifer Brunner, right? Well, other than the fact that she’s way left of the average Ohio voter, she already took a swing at another Democrat hopeful recently, so she’s probably not high on Chairman PirateBoy’s totem pole.
And then there’s Tim Ryan (untested), David Pepper (unrelatable), Lee Fisher (unfriendly), Yvette McGee Brown (unseasoned), Maryellen O’Shaughnessy (unlikable) or Marilyn Brown (unequipped).
Heck, Ted Celeste might be the next best option—he’s got better name recognition than Fitzy and he’s already run statewide. But if he couldn’t win a congressional seat, he’s in over his head statewide (same could be said about Pillich).
Yes, the Kearney debacle was not only politically costly for Fitz—it revealed a lot about his decision-making ability and his readiness to run the state. As the Dispatch said, it’s “glaring evidence of FitzGerald’s incompetence…” That incompetence makes him a significant political liability at the top of the ticket, and that could cost Democrats, who already have little to no electoral chances, come November 2014.
But could any other Democrat do any better? The pickings are quite slim, and while dumping Fitz might come across as an attempt to save face, showing Eddy the door leaves little else for Democrats in 2014.
To be sure, Fitz is a bad candidate and would make an awful governor. But he’s just about the best that Ohio Democrats can do these days. And, wow, does that say a lot about the state of Democrat politics here in Ohio.