COLUMBUS -- Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald launched an exploratory committee Monday for a potential run against Gov. John Kasich next year.
FitzGerald is the first Democratic to formalize his potential candidacy among several rumored to be considering the governor's race. He is a former FBI special agent, assistant prosecutor and suburban Cleveland mayor who was elected Cuyahoga County executive two years ago.
In a released statement Monday, FitzGerald said he was "beginning a conversation" with the people of Ohio. He was also critical of cuts to local government funding under Kasich's administration.
"Do we really have to settle for a state government that robs our communities, forcing cuts to police, firefighters and teachers?," he said. "Or is something better possible? Do we really have to settle for a Governor who wants new taxes on everyday Ohioans while giving big tax breaks for those at the top? Or is something better possible? I think something better is possible."
Ohio Republican Party spokesman Matthew Henderson retorted in a later statement concerning FitzGerald's candidacy, "Ohioans just can't wait for two years worth of more negative attacks."
Other Democrats mentioned as potential Kasich challengers include former Attorney General Richard Cordray, Congressman Tim Ryan and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton.
Kasich outpaced all in a recent poll of registered voters conducted by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
FitzGerald lagged Kasich by 10 percentage points in the survey late last month, and no Democrat came closer than six percentage points.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.