Created on Tuesday, 06 May 2014 Written by JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Democrats were deciding Tuesday between two candidates for governor: a former lawman in Cleveland who leads the state's largest county and a little-known Dayton-area man who labels himself an activist against a corrupt justice system.
LEFT: In this April 1, 2014 file photo, Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald carries his ballot to a booth at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on the first day of early voting for the May 6, primary. FitzGerald released his first radio ad Thursday, April 17, 2014, the same week as Republican Gov. John Kasich released his first television spot. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File) RIGHT: This March 25, 2014 photo shows Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Larry Ealy during an interview in Columbus Ohio. Ealy, 51, is challenging Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in the May primary with the winner facing off against incumbent Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the November general election. (AP Photo/Ann Sanner).
The winner of the party's primary faces Republican Gov. John Kasich in the fall.
Most observers believe Larry Ellis Ealy, 51, of Trotwood, has little chance against Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the Democrats' endorsed candidate.
Ealy has no money or campaign and told one Ohio newspaper he doesn't know where Youngstown is located.
FitzGerald, 45, of Lakewood, is a former prosecutor, mayor and FBI agent who was tapped to clean up Cuyahoga County government after a corruption scandal.
FitzGerald's running mate is Yellow Springs attorney Sharen Swartz Neuhardt, a former congressional candidate who's been an outspoken proponent of abortion rights. Ealy's running mate is Ken Gray of Cincinnati.
In anticipation of victory Tuesday, FitzGerald already released his first campaign radio ad against Kasich, a former congressman and investment banker who had amassed $8.5 million for the fall campaign as of April's reporting deadline. FitzGerald reported $1.5 million in the bank.
FitzGerald has offered key contrasts to Kasich in the areas of women's health and abortion rights and in calling for more transparency at JobsOhio, the private job-creation office championed by Kasich and controlled by his appointees. He's barely acknowledged the primary challenge from Ealy.
Ealy has filed dozens of lawsuits in Ohio courts — mostly against police, judges and mental health officials, according to an Associated Press review. He dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and records show he has performed community service and spent time behind bars over the years for generally minor infractions. He ran unsuccessfully for Dayton mayor in 2009.
Ealy, who is black, has said he is running for office because he believes minorities are being oppressed and enslaved.
He wants to legalize marijuana and create a new tax base from it to help educate and house the homeless. He'd also like to relaunch a high-speed rail project abandoned by Kasich.