Monday, October 27, 2014

Kasich nearly sweeps newspaper endorsements; FitzGerald's driver's license trouble dooms him

John Kasich’s slouch said it all. The governor showed up to the Plain Dealer endorsement interview without a tie, and he leaned back in his chair, one arm off to the side. He never talked to his Democratic opponent, Ed FitzGerald, even ignored his questions until reporters repeated them. The governor figured he had the endorsement in the bag.

He was right. The centrist Plain Dealer gave Kasich a surprisingly enthusiastic thumbs-up on Friday. In fact, the governor won the endorsements of nearly all of the major-city newspapers in Ohio.

Final score: Kasich 6, FitzGerald 0, none of the above 1.

It’s not easy to run the table with Ohio’s newspapers, since their editorial pages range from conservative to progressive. Kasich came close. The Columbus Dispatch, Canton Repository and Plain Dealer praised his four years as governor.

“John Kasich’s first term as governor has been one of the most consequential, successful and remarkable in Ohio’s history,” wrote the conservative Dispatch, which credited him for cutting the state’s budget and filling the rainy-day fund after the recession, and called him a “social moderate and reformer.”

The Akron Beacon Journal, Youngstown Vindicator and Toledo Blade editorial pages had a tougher decision. How could they reconcile their frequent criticisms of Kasich with the dilemma posed by FitzGerald’s campaign?

“Inept,” the Blade described FitzGerald’s run, politely. “Pathetic performance,” the Beacon Journal said.

Here’s the official scorers' ruling on FitzGerald’s errors -- how many newspapers cited them as a reason not to endorse him:
No drivers license for 10 years: 7 of 7 
First running mate’s tax troubles: 2 of 7
Found in car with Irish trade delegate: 2 of 7 
“If you can't trust a politician to take care of the small but necessary things – for TEN years – how can you trust him with the futures of nearly 11.6 million citizens and 53,000 state employees?” asked The Cincinnati Enquirer. The Dispatch, which said much the same, didn’t even deign to print FitzGerald’s name.

The Beacon Journal and The Vindicator went for Kasich on balance, hinting they might’ve endorsed a stronger challenger. The Blade compiled a long list of criticisms of Kasich, then endorsed no one. “These failings argue for a change in the governor’s office,” it wrote. “But Mr. FitzGerald does not make a persuasive case that he is that change.”

FitzGerald, The Beacon Journal argued, has been successful as Cuyahoga County executive, but is unready to be governor. “The shame is that he did not seek a second term to build on what has been started and sharpen his skills.” A shame, the Beacon implies, because FitzGerald is unlikely to get another shot at a major office.

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