About a dozen local supporters, including Democratic leaders Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, party chairwoman Molly Varner, and council members greeted gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald as he made stops throughout the state Tuesday, before going on to win the primary hours later.
"I think he is a nice guy and has good ideas for our state," said Matthews. "It's wonderful that he is taking the time to come to our city because I think southeast Ohio feels like it is neglected by candidates a lot of times."
Thrive Cafe and Catering, 286 Front St., played host to the Cuyahoga County native, who was being challenged by Larry Ellis Ealy, of Trotwood near Dayton, in the primary election.
ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald extends a hand to greet Harger AndersonJussen, 10, as his father Christian Jussen, owner of Thrive Cafe and Catering, and teacher Christine McVicar, look on. FitzGerald stopped at Thrive on Election Day to greet local supporters as he traveled around the state.
"Well we are Democrats - we had Ted Strickland at our house a couple years ago and enjoyed meeting him - and I thought it was a great idea to have (FitzGerald) here," said Thrive owner Christian Jussen.
He said his son Harger was pleased to be introduced to FitzGerald as a kind of "civics" lesson for the homeschooler.
FitzGerald easily defeated Ealy Tuesday and will face Republican Gov. John Kasich in November. Ealy, who threw his hat into the ring in February, is not known by many and has never held public office. FitzGerald is a former mayor of Lakewood, prosecutor and FBI agent.
At a glance
Votes in Washington County:
For Larry Ealy: 464; 23.64 percent.
For Ed FitzGerald: 1,499; 76.36 percent.
FitzGerald said he began his day in his hometown near Cleveland and would end up meeting up with his family in Columbus later in the day to watch the results roll in.
"We are going all over the state," he said, adding that this would make his fourth or fifth visit to Marietta. "I have been in southeast Ohio, I think, as much as any candidate has been since Ted Strickland."
He also made a stop at the former Ormet Aluminum plant in Hannibal, where 1,000 workers have been laid off and union representatives have been unsuccessful in attempts at conversations with Kasich to try to reopen the plant.
"They are holding out hope but good news has been in short supply there, as has any leadership from the governor," FitzGerald said. "They are beyond frustrated with the fact that (Kasich) just won't talk to them, he won't engage with them ... they still have a plan to reopen their plant, I have gone over their plan with them and told them if they can hang on, I will do the best I can when I get into office (to help)."
FitzGerald said he has gotten to know some of the workers in the three trips he has made to Hannibal and he tells them that their story is one he shares all over the state.
"I am not sure there has been another instance of a plant that has shut down, thousands of people have lost their jobs, and the governor of Ohio literally refuses to speak to them - they've gathered thousands of signatures and he still won't meet with them," he said.
When pressed about why he thinks Kasich won't sit down with the union, FitzGerald said he has his theory.
"I think they are just not on his radar screen," he said. "What he has said, though, which I don't think makes any sense, is that he doesn't want it to be political. It's not political ... these people have lost their jobs."
Looking beyond the primary, FitzGerald said he is feeling positive about a showdown with Kasich in the fall.
"The polls are getting closer, people are responding to our message," he said. "In the past year, I have made a lot of friends all over the state. We have six months to go and a lot of momentum headed our way."