The campaign troubles of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald have gotten the attention of undecided voters and third party officials and supporters.
Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.
Last year at this time, both the Tea Party and the Libertarian Party of Ohio were planning their options for the 2014 election for governor. Neither wanted Republican John Kasich re-elected, and neither wanted to support Democrat Ed FitzGerald, who had launched his campaign a few months earlier. Charlie Earl announced he was running for governor as a Libertarian last September. But he’s been tossed from the ballot because of petition signature problems. The Libertarians are still fighting that in court, and Earl says in the meantime, he’s been talking to the voters he was hoping to bring in – irritated and indifferent independents, disaffected Democrats and resentful Republicans.
“I think we would have attracted them. The fact that FitzGerald is having his difficulties would make us even more attractive. I fear what’s going to happen is a lot of Democrats are just flat out just going to stay home in November if they don’t have a viable alternative.”
Ohio Tea Party members are now planning their annual convention in Columbus next month, and are focusing on recruiting candidates to run in elections next year and in 2016. Portage County Tea Party executive director Tom Zawistowski says he has little in the way of advice for Tea Partiers in this year’s election.
“The governor has made sure that they have no one to vote for, so your vote is wasted. Basically, go to the polls – there’s other elections, there’s certainly issues on the ballot. We certainly support Josh Mandel and we’ll work for him. There’s House races – some of them are contested.”
But while both Earl and Zawistowski say they’re concerned about what happens this fall, they’re also worried about the long term. The Libertarians are not just challenging this fall’s decision keeping their Earl and another candidate off the ballot – they’re also battling a law signed last November that kept minor parties off the primary ballot and changed their signature requirements, which essentially kept them off the fall ballot as well. Earl says that legal process has been dragging on for a while.
“I appreciate the fact that they’re doing the people’s work. I’m kind of frustrated by the fact that they’re wasting the people’s money for something that is so blatant and so obvious that they’re trying to deny a choice.”
And Zawistowski says he’s also worried that the outcome of this fall’s election will convince Kasich’s supporters that a path to the presidency is ahead of him – and that Kasich will say that himself.
“He’s going to win in a landslide. The convention’s in Cleveland. Let’s have a coronation of John Kasich. Well, we certainly don’t want John Kasich anywhere near the White House. We, quite frankly, would like to have him nowhere near Columbus.”
Both Earl and Zawistowski also say they’re concerned about the effects of the FitzGerald on future candidates, who they admit might shy away from running for office because of revelations about past problems. But they also say that politics can be a dirty business, and that would-be candidates need to be prepared for it.