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FitzGerald's top aides leave campaign

Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio

After weeks of bad headlines, low poll numbers and disappointing fundraising, there’s a major shakeup rattling the campaign of the Democratic candidate for governor.

Two top aides to Ed FitzGerald are leaving the Democrat’s troubled campaign. Spokesperson Lauren Hitt confirms that campaign manager Nick Buis and communications director Daniel McElhatton have left their day-to-day roles with the campaign, but will assist as consultants on an as needed basis. She notes that any other staff changes will be announced later this week – and those reportedly will include the departures of two other consultants and even Hitt herself.

Buis, McElhatton and Hitt were all brought in from out of state to work with the campaign, and Buis and McElhatton made the choice to leave. It’s unclear whether the Democrats will spend what little money FitzGerald has left on an ad blitz or turn their attention to the downticket races.

There are still a lot of questions about why FitzGerald didn’t have a permanent driver’s license for a decade, which was discovered after a 2012 police report showing he was found in a dark parking lot in the early morning hours with a woman who was a member of a visiting Irish delegation.

Then last week, there came reports that FitzGerald disciplined employees in his office who didn’t have valid drivers’ licenses. FitzGerald’s campaign had stumbled early when it was revealed that his first choice for his running mate, Senator Eric Kearney of Cincinnati, owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes.

FitzGerald has struggled with fundraising since the beginning - as of the last reporting period a few weeks ago, incumbent Republican John Kasich holds a 5-1 money advantage over FitzGerald with more than $11 million on hand compared to FitzGerald’s nearly $2.5 million, and the latest Quinnipiac poll has FitzGerald down 12 points. Early voting starts in 50 days.