LIMA — Gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald stopped briefly at the Allen County Fair Sunday to meet with greeters and well-wishers in the Democratic Party booth.
FitzGerald said Allen County is an important area because it is made up of so many middle class residents, a group he has said he plans to help out. At the 100-day mark before elections, most polls were showing Republican incumbent Gov. John Kasich at about a 12 percentage point lead. Recently however, FitzGerald has made slight gains, with some polls showing him as close as 6 percent.
He contributed recent news about him as proof that his campaign is gaining ground. Recently, it was uncovered that FitzGerald’s driver’s license had expired in 2002. He got a temporary permit in 2008 and renewed it twice before finally getting a permanent license in 2012.
A week after that it was learned that he was in a car at 4:30 a.m. in a secluded parking lot in the Cleveland suburb of Westlake with a woman in 2012. He has admitted that the driver’s license ordeal was a mistake and said the meeting with the woman was an Irish delegate he had been driving around and that they accidentally got separated from the group.
“If this is the worst that they can come up with,” FitzGerald said, “it shows that they couldn’t find anything. They know people are starting to pay attention. The people deserve a good debate.”
Becky Magrum and Novarro Wood of the House of Grace Men’s Outreach and Recovery Program in Lima spent several minutes talking with FitzGerald. Magrum said she asked about FitzGerald’s plans to focus on problems with jails and prisons and helping people so they don’t reoffend.
Magrum said she felt rehabilitation places should be set up so felons do not fail after they are released.
“He said he had a plan to help with housing and jobs,” Magrum said. “I had already spoken with Kasich before and I liked his plan. I wanted to see if this was a concern for FitzGerald also. I like his idea as long as he follows through with it.”
FitzGerald said Kasich’s policies have removed funding from local governments, something he planned to address if elected.
“I think I have policies that will help Ohio,” FitzGerald said. “Kasich’s policies have hurt local government and they have hurt where you are standing right now.”
Robert “Bo” Huenke, a candidate for the 4th Congressional District seat, said he was happy to see FitzGerald’s interest in the county.
“He is the one who inspired me to run,” Huenke said. “I think what makes him different is he is willing to compromise. From the GOP side I see no compromising.”
Jewell Pennington, coordinator for FitzGerald’s campaign in Allen County, said she couldn’t ever remember an Ohio gubernatorial candidate coming to the fair.
“I was really impressed by that,” Pennington said. “I hope he is able to build his campaign up a little bit more and close the gap.”