Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald's campaign to unseat Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) hasn't been going very well; the most recent poll from Quinnipiac University showed him trailing by 12 points. Which was before FitzGerald spent Friday having to answer questions about a 2012 incident in which he and a woman who was not his wife were found in a car in a parking lot at 4:30 a.m.
Here's the story. Early in the morning of October 13, 2012, an electrician working in an office park in Westlake, Ohio, noticed a red Ford with two people in it parked in a parking lot. He called the police (audio of which is at Cleveland.com). "I don't know if they're having sex in the parking lot or what they're doing here," the caller said, but figured he should call it in. The police agreed to check it out and filed a report (below) which details what was found.
In case that's too small to read, here's what it says:
[The caller] rpts while working in a vacant suite next to Mars electric there has been an occupied red Ford focus parked in the lot for the past half hour. ... Edward FITZGERALD/07-10-1968 and friend just talking.
When calling back to the precinct, on the day of the incident, the officer repeated that. "This was a county guy. He had part of a delegation from Ireland with him. ... I guess there was a delegation from Ireland in town and he was just taking them back to the hotel and he just stopped and was talking."
FitzGerald's friend was the only person in the car with him. The rest of the delegation from Ireland, six of them or so, were in another vehicle, according to the Plain Dealer. In a press conference on Friday afternoon, FitzGerald indicated that he had gotten lost while trying to drive his passenger where she was going. He also lashed out at the suggestion that he'd behaved inappropriately. In a statement to the Columbus Dispatch, FitzGerald said that he and his wife were "extremely disappointed at the personal attacks being levied against our family." In the Friday afternoon press conference, he became angry when a reporter asked if everyone in the car was fully clothed. "I'm not even going to answer that," FitzGerald said. "It's disgusting."
He used that same word earlier when responding to questions about his opponent. "I don't believe the campaign should be on the governor's conduct, on his marriage, on his children, and I think campaigns that do that are disgusting," FitzGerald said. "The average voter," he later continued, "cannot stand these kind of tactics."
There may be a silver lining to the scenario for FitzGerald. He's held the office of county executive in Cuyahoga County, home of Cleveland, since 2011. He's the first person to hold that position; it was created in the wake of a corruption scandal in 2010. As the Plain Dealer pointed out earlier this week, fewer than half of respondents to that Quinnipiac poll who live in northeast Ohio, his home base, had heard enough about him to register an opinion.
That number will almost certainly go up now.