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Some big news today for Ed FitzGerald's (D. OH) campaign:

The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, the state's largest law-enforcement union, today announced its endorsements for statewide office.

For executive office, the union endorsed four Democrats: Ed FitzGerald for governor (an ex-FBI agent), David Pepper for attorney general, John Carney for auditor and Connie Pillich for treasurer. The FOP opted for Republican incumbent Jon Husted for secretary of state over State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland.

For the Ohio Supreme Court, the union picked a pair of Republican incumbents: Justices Judith L. French and Sharon L. Kennedy (a former Hamilton, Ohio, police officer).

Republican Gov. John Kasich could not have been counting on the FOP endorsement, both for policy and personal reasons. - Columbus Dispatch, 7/29/14

Here's why this is a big deal:

On one hand the FitzGerald nod signals that Senate Bill 5, a collective bargaining overhaul Kasich sought for police officers and other public employees, will be a key issue in the fall. On the other, the FOP wasn't much a fan of Kasich before then. The union endorsed Democrat and then-incumbent Ted Strickland four years ago. Kasich later made waves for referring to a police officer as an "idiot."

In a statement emailed by the FitzGerald campaign, FOP President Jay McDonald did not explicitly mention SB 5, which voters repealed overwhelmingly in 2011. McDonald instead criticized Kasich for recently declaring it an "era of good feeling" in Ohio.

"The Fraternal Order of Police spoke loud and clear this morning that Ohioans are not experiencing an 'era of good feeling,'" McDonald said.

"Communities across Ohio are experiencing an unprecedented heroin epidemic, but Ohio's police have been left to fight that battle without state support. The reduction of the local government fund has also severally impacted public safety across the board. We look forward to working with Gov. FitzGerald to restore the local government fund, and to having a true partner in state government once again."

Said FitzGerald, a former FBI agent, assistant prosecutor and Lakewood mayor: "On everything from local government cuts to SB 5 and the heroin epidemic, Gov. Kasich has failed to stand up for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us. I look forward to working with President McDonald to ensure Ohio's next governor prioritizes public safety over more tax cuts for the very wealthy." - Northeast Ohio Media Group, 7/29/14

Union members are getting excited about this race:

Dozens of local labor union members filled a room to meet Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald on Monday night at the IBEW Local 8 building in Rossford.

George Tucker, executive secretary-treasurer of AFL-CIO, the group hosting the event, encouraged union members to get out the vote this fall for the Cuyahoga County executive who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich.

“This is the most important election we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ve got to get people out to vote.”

Joseph Cousino, the business manager of IBEW Local 8; Ray Wood, president of United Auto Workers Local 14; and Catherine Hernandez, the recording secretary for Toledo Federation of Teachers Local 250, all spoke in fervent support of Mr. FitzGerald.

Union members stood to clap and shout their appreciation as Mr. FitzGerald stood to speak.

He said he knew the issues on the minds of attendees. “People know the economy is not working for them. Fifty percent of people in the state are living paycheck to paycheck,” he said. - Toledo Blade, 7/29/14

It is a little surprising that Kasich picked up this endorsement:

Gov. John Kasich will return to the campaign trail Tuesday for a "special announcement" with the Ohio Restaurant Association in Steubenville.

Expect an endorsement, given that the organization backed the Republican four years ago and already lists him among its favored candidates for 2014.

But what happened in between makes this more interesting than your typical endorsement. Kasich in 2011 signed into law a bill that allows concealed firearms to be carried in bars, restaurants and other Class D licensed liquor establishments.

One of the most vocal opponents of the guns-in-bars bill: The restaurant group.

Bygones? The association also is supporting the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Tim Schaffer of Lancaster, in the term-limited Republican's bid for the Ohio House. The names of several co-sponsors -- Bill Beagle, Shannon Jones, Kris Jordan, Gayle Manning and Scott Oelslager -- also appear on the list of endorsed candidates. - Northeast Ohio Media Group, 7/29/14

FitzGerald has been hitting the campaign hard listening to voters about the damages Kasich has caused:

FitzGerald made a stop at the Ross County Courthouse on Friday, joining City Auditor Luke Feeney and several city council members to talk about the cuts and how they have impacted Chillicothe. Over the last four years, the city has seen its local government funding coming from the state cut in half, according to Councilwoman Beth Neal, who said "because of all the cuts, our budget is in terrible shape."

FitzGerald criticized Kasich's budget decisions for what he says is their adverse impact on local communities.

"How your local community is doing is probably a lot more relevant than how Gov. Kasich's budget is doing, and we've never had a governor that has taken money out of local communities the way that this governor has," FitzGerald said.

The local government fund, he said, has been in existence for decades, and an agreement between Democrats and Republicans stipulated the money would be used in local communities for local services.

"Every single governor we've had in modern history has respected that agreement until this one," FitzGerald said. - Chillicothe Gazette, 7/26/14

And FitzGerald's message is backed by facts:

ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE.Democractic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald speaks to an intimate crowd  about the impact of cuts in state taxpayer to Lorain County during his stop at the Lorain County Democratic Party headquarters in Lorain Sunday afternoon.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald on Sunday accused Republican Gov. John Kasich of balancing the budget on the backs of local governments.

Analyzing state statistics, One Ohio Now, a liberal policy group, estimates local governments and schools have lost $1.86 billion in state taxpayer aid between the 2010-11 fiscal year and 2014-15. That works out to $1.5 billion to cities and counties and $349 million to schools. Lorain County lost $48.4 million — $33.8 million to local governments and $14.6 million to schools, the policy group said.

FitzGerald noted Ohio governors are constitutionally mandated to balance budgets, but said the cuts to localities were unprecedented. He said the cuts have resulted in layoffs to firefighters, police and teachers and meant fewer social services and infrastructure improvements such as road resurfacing.

FitzGerald said the average citizen may not think much about state budgets, but the cuts affect families. “These things matter,” FitzGerald told about 30 supporters at Lorain County Democratic Party headquarters.

FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County executive and a former Lakewood mayor, prosecutor and FBI agent, said government should be helping the middle class and poor. He said Kasich’s concern is the rich.

FitzGerald cited Kasich’s income tax cuts and sales tax increases. Analyzing state statistics, Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal group affiliated with One Ohio Now, said the wealthiest 1 percent of Ohioans, who earned at least $335,000 annually in 2012, received about a $6,000 annual tax cut in the first Kasich budget. Those earning between $33,000 and $50,000 annually received a $5 annual tax cut, while those earning less than $33,000 earned a $24 tax cut, Policy Matters Ohio said.

Ohio’s sales tax increased from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent in September. Many economists see sales taxes as regressive because unlike income taxes, the rich and poor pay the same percentage. - The Chronicle-Telegram, 7/28/14

FitzGerald also has been reminding voters about Kasich's attempts to suppress African American voters:

FitzGerald, who addressed an audience of more than 200 people, virtually all African-Americans and most of them from other states, was invited to speak in his role as Cuyahoga County executive during a plenary session on the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The message FitzGerald delivered was a familiar one from his campaign speeches against Republican Gov. John Kasich, tailored specifically to an African-American audience.

FitzGerald only mentioned Kasich specifically once — accusing him and Secretary of State Jon Husted of supporting voter suppression — but he called for universal pre-kindergarten in the state (a major campaign proposal for him) and said afterward that the problems he identified were things he believes are happening under the governor.

“In Ohio, we are trailing the rest of the country in terms of recovering from the Great Recession, but it’s been even tougher on African-Americans,” FitzGerald said. “There is an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. However, in this recovery, the only boats that seem to be rising are yachts for millionaires, while most people are barely keeping their heads above water.”

FitzGerald said “in the poorest neighborhoods of Cleveland,” where he serves as county executive, “the life expectancy is 20 years less than in the wealthiest suburbs of Ohio.” He also said the numbers of African-Americans living paycheck to paycheck, making minimum wage and dropping out of high school are higher than the state’s averages.

“The reason my message is particularly relevant for this audience is, all those areas where Ohio is lagging behind the rest of the country, it’s being felt more acutely by the African-American population,” FitzGerald told The Dispatch afterward. - Columbus Dispatch, 7/25/14

And of course this race is all about jobs:

Ohio's nonfarm employment was more than 5.3 million in June. That marked a gain of 243,900 since Kasich succeeded Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in January 2011. Private employment also has risen, and new job starts, another important gauge of an economy's health, rose 1,270 from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of this year.

Ohio's unemployment rate has fallen steadily since 2010, from 10.6 percent in January 2010 to 5.5 percent in May and June, the lowest rate since before the recession. The private sector has led the growth. Overall government employment fell from January 2011 to June, led by nearly 25,000 jobs lost in local government. Median incomes in Ohio have fallen about $7,000 over the past decade.

Kasich took Ohio's helm in the wake of a punishing national recession. From January 2007 to January 2010, Ohio had lost 430,000 jobs. Federal labor statistics show the downward trend had begun to reverse as Strickland and Kasich were facing off for governor in 2010. Four years out, the nation and about a third of individual states have fully recovered jobs lost during the recession; Ohio has recovered about 6 in 10 jobs.

The state often ranks in the top or bottom ranges of 50-state rankings that report raw numbers. Keep in mind that may relate to its large population.

It's also good to be aware that the unemployment rate is in some ways a fickle statistic. It measures the percentage of Ohioans who say they are jobless and looking, so the rate can seem to improve when people are discouraged and give up job-hunting, or it can appear worse when optimism abounds and previously discouraged workers start to try to re-enter the workforce. Since 2007, Ohio's overall workforce — the base from which the statistic is calculated — has shrunk from nearly 6 million to a little over 5.7 million, both from workforce dropouts and retiring baby boomers.

Kasich points to tax changes and budget cuts as helping stimulate Ohio's economy. He frequently highlights not only newly added jobs but those the administration prevented from leaving the state or those relocated within the state.

FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, focuses his jobs talk on the impact of state budget cuts on schools and other local government employers. It is a natural strategy for two reasons: the job losses experienced by the sector; and Kasich's perceived vulnerability among unionized police, firefighters and teachers who remember the collective bargaining fight of 2011. He also points to declines in Ohio's median incomes, which Kasich notes are improving faster than the nation as a whole. - AP, 7/26/14

We have a real shot at beating Kasich here but we have to make sure our base gets out and votes.  Click here to donate and get involved with FitzGerald's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 07:40 PM PDT.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks, KasichWatch, In Support of Labor and Unions, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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