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Ed Fitzgerald works to get name out in southwest Ohio

CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald hopes to defeat Gov. John Kasich in the fall.

He is trying to get his name out to voters in Hamilton County.  Fitzgerald spoke to a crowd of supporters at Rhinegeist Bar in Over-the-Rhine Wednesday night.  He talked about the need to bring better paying jobs to Ohio.  He also seized upon a law Kasich signed in 2011 that limited public sector unions' ability to collectively bargain. The law was later rejected by voters.
"The big issue of his whole first year in office was to try to take people's rights to organize and negotiate for their benefits in the public sector and that's why it failed by 22% points so I think it's a big issue," Fitzgerald said in an interview with Local 12 News.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Republican Party responded to Fitzgerald's attack on the collective bargaining law.
"It's hardly surprising that Fitzgerald would seek to rehash old issues and divide Ohioans because the fact is that Governor Kasich has turned Ohio  around from years of Democrat job loss. In fact, Ohio's turnaround has been strong enough that some labor groups have supported the governor," said Chris Schrimpf, of the Ohio GOP.
Fitzgerald isn't well-known outside of the Cleveland area. He's a former FBI agent and prosecutor. He said he realizes how critical Hamilton County could be in the election.
"This whole area is very important and it's an area that's gone both ways in elections," Fitzgerald said.
Gov. Kasich won Hamilton County in 20-10 but President Obama won the county twice.  Xavier University political science professor Gene Beaupre says Fitzgerald visiting this part of the state this early is smart.
"Any exposure, any television exposure, anything like that that he can get that is down here, that isn't broadcast from Cleveland or Columbus or someplace else, makes him more of a home boy and that's what he's trying to do I think," Beaupre said.
Meanwhile, Kasich's supporters are focusing on a drop in unemployment in the last four years.
"We have a great story to tell about Governor Kasich. We're not so much focused on Ed Fitzgerald because there's really not much about him. He hasn't been a formidable opponent, yet," said Alex Triantafilou, chair of the Hamilton County GOP.
A recent poll from Quinnipiac University poll put Gov. Kasich ahead of Fitzgerald by a slim margin of 43-38. 

Kasich has raised $8 million while Fitzgerald has raised more than $1.5 million. Even with the significant gap in fundraising, Fitzgerald thinks he has the winning message.
"Our state needs to head in a different direction," Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald faces a primary challenge from Larry Ealy on May 6. Ealy is from Trotwood, Ohio near Dayton. Fitzgerald is the favorite and has been endorsed by democrats throughout the state.

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