It’s hard to imagine how the last few weeks could have gone any worse for Democrat gubernatorial hopeful Ed FitzGærald. First, he lied about his knowledge regarding food stamp reductions in the county, then he lied about his knowledge of Cuyahoga County’s credit downgrade.
And that was all before what has amounted to a disastrous rollout of his pick for Lt. Gov., Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, who is not only a huge liability from a policy perspective, but apparently has huge tax problems that keep piling up:
State Sen. Eric Kearney, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, owes more in unpaid taxes than he and his campaign disclosed last week.
Since 1998, records show, the Internal Revenue Service and the state of Ohio have placed about $1 million in liens against Kearney, his wife and their publishing company. That’s nearly five times higher than the $218,000 figure Kearney offered Fridaywhen pressed about his tax debt…
“I interpreted the question differently,” Kearney said by telephone Tuesday when asked why he did not disclose the other tax bills when pressed on the subject last week.
Interpreted the question differently? That might be the biggest joke of a rebuttal since this gem:
But what’s harder to believe is that Fitzy knew about everything that’s come out in the last week. The story seems to get worse every day, and Fitzy’s campaign even admits they don’t have all the information:
Campaign spokesman Matt McGrath said Tuesday that FitzGerald knew about all of Kearney’s tax issues before selecting him. But McGrath said the campaign has sought payment records from the state and the IRS to better answer questions from reporters.
“We’ve requested documentation and are trying to track it down,” McGrath said.
Just making an observation here, but if you have to request documentation, you probably don’t know the full extent of the problems. This just confirms what we said last week: the rollout of Fitzy’s LG announcement was a huge rush-job in response to his glaring struggles with African American Democrats.
The Plain Dealer already noted these struggles, and Fitzy has already told the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus that he didn’t need her support. Add to all of this yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll that shows Fitzy’s problems are statistically verifiable:
If you doubted that Fitz rushed this decision before, there can be no doubt now. 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.
With all the other issues Fitzy has had in this campaign, is the Democratic Governors Association going to be even remotely interested in bailing out this train wreck of a campaign?
Which brings up a big question that Fitzy’s closest advisors have to be considering at this point: is it time to admit mistake and drop Kearney from the ticket?
Kearney’s negatives are glaring—he’s friends with the President at a time where Obamacare is crippling the economy and is in an approval-rating death spiral; he hates cutting taxes; and apparently he hates paying them as well. Every bit of press surrounding the Kearney announcement has been negative, from abysmal event turnout to what seems to be never-ending unpaid tax bills.
Of course, Fitzy’s campaign would take a hit on the public relations side of things, but it’s still early in the election cycle. It’s not even Thanksgiving. Fitz could dump Kearney today, and it would be old news by Monday, buried amid an avalanche of Black Friday news.
The announcement itself was way early—lending further credence to the fact that it was rushed—compared to Governor Kasich’s pick of then-Auditor Mary Taylor, which came in mid-January 2010. So Fitz can still right the ship.
The question is, will he do so? The truth of the matter is, timing is still on his side. As the polls show, voters still have no idea who Fitz is—and at this point, anyone who’s heard of Kearney only knows about his immense tax issues—so Ed still has time to form his image in the minds of Ohioans.
Does he really want that image to include a runningmate who owes more in taxes than most Ohioans make in two decades? Doesn’t exactly scream of middle-class values.
But Fitz has to act quickly as his window of opportunity is closing more and more each day. Every day that Kearney remains on the ticket is another day of bad media, and another day where voters tie Ed FitzGèrald to his #TaxCheat of a runningmate.
I’m not much for giving campaign advice to liberal Democrats, but it’s not every day a campaign can correct a huge misstep. It might be time for Fitzy to admit mistake and cut the cord.