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Fitzgerald’s running mate circus now drawing national attention

For two weeks we have been keeping track of the horrible rollout of Ed Fitzgerald’s running mate, State Senator Eric Kearney. Most of the coverage has been by Ohio based news outlets and pundits.

Until now, however. Check out the headline from the Washington Post yesterday:

Worst rollout of the year? Ohio candidate owes $1 million in back taxes.


The story starts out with the facts that we all know by now. But then it gets into the amateur tactics of the Fitzgerald campaign. Even from Washington D.C., they can see that Fitzgereald’s campaign is in over it’s head.

Crisis communicators usually offer a simple prescription for a public official who has bad news to share: Get the information out quickly and completely, answer every possible question, and satisfy the media’s curiosity. Then move on.

It took the FitzGerald campaign about two weeks to get to that point. But even following the crisis communications textbook didn’t work: On Wednesday, on a conference call with reporters, Kearney said he would release an “unprecedented amount” of information about his finances. He began going through a spreadsheet detailing those finances — a spreadsheet reporters participating in the call had never received.

If you were lucky enough to be following Ohio political reporters on Twitter during the conference call, you were treated to a comical display and way too many uses of the word “unprecedented”. The first thing that was obvious to reporters was that Fitzgerald was showing so much support for Kearney, that he didn’t even bother to join him on the conference call. If you missed it, Michelle Everhart-Sullivan of the Dispatch did a great job of putting together some of the highlights. Here is a sample of some of the frustration reporters had with Kearney’s press conference.

We’ve already commented that this whole disaster shows that Fitzgerald’s campaign isn’t ready for prime time, and that’s very bad news when you need to attract donations for large out-of-state donors, such as the DGA.

Now that the Washington Post has blasted this story out to the nation’s politicos, it may make those donors think very hard before committing their dollars to such a poorly run campaign. Henry Gomez of the Plain Dealer echoes that danger for Fitzgerald.

“Worst rollout of the year?” The Washington Post’s GovBeat blog asked Wednesday.

Reid Wilson offers a scathing critique of the crisis communications — or lack thereof — that Team FitzGerald has employed since Kearney’s financial problems began trickling out, drip by damaging drip, on and in The Plain Dealer and other Ohio newspapers.

While this analysis is nothing new to Ohio political junkies and readers, it’s a big, blazing caution sign to the national donor base FitzGerald and Kearney want to tap.

The only thing unprecedented that we’ve seen is how badly Ed Fitzgerald is running his campaign.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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