Is Ed FitzGerald Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern's pick for governor in 2014?
Redfern introduced FitzGerald, county executive of Cuyahoga County, around at a party fund-raiser Monday night at the home of Bernie Quilter, Lucas County clerk of courts.
FitzGerald is the newest big thing in Ohio Democratic politics and has quickly become one of the regularly mentioned candidates for governor.
Ted Strickland lost in 2010 partly because of a depressed voter turnout in the state's biggest Democratic stronghold - Cuyahoga County. The county was divided by a corruption scandal involving Democratic officials.
(Strickland got 251,240 votes in Cuyahoga County in 2010, compared with the 335,382 he got in 2006.)
"For me it's about who can win and who will win. In 2014 we will have a candidate who will do just that," Redfern said.
A candidate who can win Cuyahoga County big has a big advantage over every other candidate.
FitzGerald makes an attractive candidate. Boyish looking, but with a serious man's resume - he's a former FBI agent and a former assistant county prosecutor. There's obviously a lot of Irish Catholic in his family - his wife is Shannon and his children are Jack, Connor, Colleen and Bridget.
According to his official resume, he is the seventh of eight children, worked his way through Ohio State University, attended night law school at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, served as a staffer for the U.S. House of Representatives.
While in the FBI he was assigned to an organized crime task force in Chicago - good preparation for his next assignment, assistant county prosecutor in the Cleveland area.
He was elected three times to Lakewood city council and then as mayor.
A hurdle for him is that he's not well known and that he hasn't served at the state or legislative level.
About 30 people were present for his remarks and another 10 to 15 bought tickets, which cost $75. The money went to the state Democratic Party.
In his comments in the man cave basement of Bernie and Michelle Quilter's home, FitzGerald didn't say much about the issue that made him the star that he is right now - county reorganization.
Cuyahoga County voters in 2009 adopted a county charter that put one elected official in charge of all county government, with a council of 11 to act has his legislative check and balance.
A small group of Lucas Countians is trying to emulate Cuyhoga County and create that same kind of charter here.
The county reform group needs to collect 14,448 signatures by the end of June to get on the ballot in Lucas County.
FitzGerald (Edward, not Edmund) told some jokes, including that his Republican opponent, whose parents own the Cleveland Indians, spent $3 million trying to win the county executive seat in 2010, "which they should have spent on starting pitching."
He made some criticisms of John Kasich:
"The estimate is there have been over 500 tax increases in the state of Ohio. Those are basically John Kasich tax increases that he has passed on downstream by mandating costs and cutting services and then saying that he's the one that's actually being fiscally responsible," FitzGerald said.
He said that the Republican Party of Ohio knows it "overreached" with Senate Bill 5, the bill that tried to hamstring Ohio's public employee unions, but will be back with the same kind of agenda after the 2012 election.
"The Republican Party's been going downhill since Lincoln," Fitzgerald said. A sure laugh at a Democratic fund-raiser that makes Democrats feel better about not having Lincoln in their lineage.
"If I was going to run for something I wouldn't run for anything except governor. In 2012 I'm traveling the state, I'm talking to people.
"To go up against the Republican money machine is a huge task, even if there isn't a primary, if you add a primary to it, it makes it that much more difficult.
"So I think the serious candidates will start talking to people across the state. I'll make the decision sometime early in '13, if I think the support is there for me to do that if I decide to do that," FitzGerald said.