A Gubernatorial Debate Without the Guber

Ed FitzGerald Comes Out Strong, But is it 'Too Little Too Late'?


We noted not too long ago that the most notable feature of Cleveland's gubernatorial debate was the simple fact that the incumbent, Gov. John Kasich, wasn't going to show up. That came to pass, of course, proving, as though it even needed proof, that Kasich and most other Republican incumbents in Columbus don't give a hoot about the "public" aspects of their jobs and are more interested in asserting political/corporate connections than hearing questions from voters or the media.

Ho hum. Dude's gonna roll into re-election, anyway. 

Ed FitzGerald and Anita Rios "debated" yesterday at the City Club, though the event was more of the preaching-to-the-choir ilk. Throughout the dog and pony show, FitzGerald and Rios repeatedly agreed with one another. FitzGerald, embattled by his own crises to the point of absurdity this year, frowned throughout.

NEOMG's Robert Higgs moderated, tossing enough varied policy questions to keep things mildly interesting. His most notable moment came when he pressed FitzGerald — like, really pushed him on this — for answers about how the public should "balance" a politician's character with his or her policies. It was weirdly veiled and uncomfortable, and the audience could pick up on how odd this moment became pretty easily, only because Higgs' employer has grilled the hell out of FitzGerald on his campaign missteps for so long. 

"If you run for governor, they go through your whole life and try to find the worst thing they can say about you...That's the way politics is sometimes," FitzGerald said before pivoting toward Kasich's own "character" as a one-time Wall Street snake whose former company had at least a hand in decimating pensions across the U.S. and Ohio. 

Rios concurred: "Shame on the media for focusing on that," she said, referring to the driver's license thing. 

Though the two candidates were pretty much on the same side of the argument throughout the debate, they did get to publicly explain their stances on gay marriage (pro), immigration (pro amnesty/reform), school funding (pro reform), Lake Erie health (pro action), and more "issues." If you were looking for specific plans — Rios has said she doesn't even want to be in this race, so... — you were out of luck.

But Ohio voters weren't really listening, anyway. Gov. John Kasich is throttling the state with self-stroking ads, all featuring images of him doing that weird thing with his lips when he talks. Bizarrely enough, that's all he'll need to coast into victory in this most crucial "political battleground." Ho hum.

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