Ohio governor hopeful touts county fiscal record

CLEVELAND (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald said Wednesday that his administration has overseen a renaissance in downtown Cleveland construction not seen in a generation — including a new county administration building, convention center, development along Lake Erie and a redesign of Public Square.

In a State of the County speech peppered with upbeat videos and including a lengthy pause to find his place, FitzGerald emphasized his record as a fiscal steward. He will surely carry the theme into his challenge this year of Republican Gov. John Kasich, who has made economic development a priority.

"If you think about it, speeches that just set out aspirations are really pretty easy to give," FitzGerald told about 800 gathered at the Cleveland City Club. "Greater Cleveland has had its share of speeches and plans, and talk is cheap. It's results that inspire confidence."

Dave Greenspan, a Republican member of the county council, said many of the accomplishments FitzGerald outlined in his speech were initiated by that panel. He said the county government created in response to a sweeping political scandal has had only about three years to work.

"It's a little early for us to take a victory lap," he said.

FitzGerald's speech came as a new Quinnipiac University poll showed Kasich leading FitzGerald 43 percent to 38 percent. FitzGerald, a former FBI agent and prosecutor, had gained slightly. The survey did not list Democrat Larry Ealy, who's qualified to challenge FitzGerald in May's primary. The poll of 1,370 registered voters conducted Feb. 12-17 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

FitzGerald drew only occasional applause from Wednesday's composed crowd, at times acknowledging that his assessment may not be glamorous.

"Now all those numbers may seem dry and boring to some, but if you don't have fiscal strength, if you don't streamline your operations, if you don't restore the public's trust you're your system is honest and open, then you won't have either the resources or the public support to accomplish great things," he said.

Kasich's campaign issued no statement on the speech, which comes days ahead of the governor's annual State of the State speech.

Kasich is bringing that address this year to Medina, in a northeast Ohio county neighboring Cuyahoga. It is his third year to move the address outside the Statehouse in Columbus.