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Government and Politics

Cuyahoga Executive FitzGerald forms his gubernatorial exploration committee
The Democrat will try to expand his name recognition across Ohio

Kevin Niedermier
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (at podium) talks about the potential impact of federal budget cuts on the county. Beside him (L-R) are MetroHealth Medical Center's John Corlett, Jim Weaver from the county's airport, and Ron Rasmus of the Great Lakes Towing Company and Shipyard.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald took another step toward a run for Ohio governor next year. Today, the Democrat announced formation of an exploratory committee. That allows him to raise money to test the waters for a challenge to Republican Gov. John Kasich.

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A recent poll shows Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald is the least likely potential Democratic challenger to defeat Gov. Kasich if the race were held today. The other possible candidates are former Congresswoman Betty Sutton and Congressman Tim Ryan. Neither has announced a run, and though he’s formed an exploratory committee, FitzGerald says he hasn’t decided either.

“It’s not something you do on the spur of the moment," Fitzgerald said. "It’s a big state and I’m pretty well known around here, but I’m getting to know more about the rest of the state. ... I want to know what people have to say, if they’re happy with the way things are going, or if they think I may be the person to lead the state in another direction.”                                                                    

FitzGerald, a former suburban Cleveland mayor, chided state leaders for cutting funding to local governments. FitzGerald talked about his possible gubernatorial bid following a press conference he held to discuss the impact on county services from the federal budget cuts known as sequestration. The Cuyahoga County Airport is one of several smaller airports nationwide that would have to close its control tower on April 7th. Jim Weaver operates “Flight Options,” which coordinates business flights at the airport.

“Some people might think of Cuyahoga County as a low volume, backwater airport to nowhere. But I can tell you, it’s very heavily trafficked, so we think the control tower is important for safety.”

If the tower closes, controllers would guide flights into the Cuyahoga County Airport from Cleveland Hopkins Airport. FitzGerald says closing the control tower could hurt the county’s economic competitiveness.

Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center is another Cuyahoga County service that could be hurt by the sequester. Hospital spokesman John Corlett says the cuts would mean nearly $3 million fewer Medicare dollars over a year’s time. And that would hurt the facility’s ability to expand services and do research.

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