CLEVELAND – In his losing bid for re-election in 2010 Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland won Cuyahoga County over Republican challenger John Kasich by 102,640 votes.
Two years earlier, in 2008, President Barack Obama carried the county over John McCain by 258,442 votes.
If Strickland had been able to simply split the difference and carry the county with say 180,000 votes, he would have defeated Kasich and won re-election.
When Ed FitzGerald looks at the 2014 race for governor, as Cuyahoga County’s first elected executive, it has to be one of the numbers that jumps off the page at him.
The flip side of the argument of course is that Strickland was able to generate numbers in his native southeast Ohio and in other parts of the state that a Cuyahoga County Democrat would be tough to copy. (See former Democratic Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan who, in 2002, ran against incumbent Republican Gov. Bob Taft. Though Hagan bested the Strickland margin of victory in Cuyahoga County, he lost to Taft statewide by a 3-to-2 margin.)
That being said, FitzGerald sees opportunity in the race ahead, which he’ll laid out in announcing his candidacy Wednesday in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
FitzGerald, 44, is the state’s second most powerful elected executive behind Gov. Kasich. He is a former special agent with the FBI and mayor of Lakewood. Though he opposed the charter change effort to create the position of county executive, he won the Democratic nomination for the post and easily beat Republican challenger Matt Dolan in 2010.