On Saturday evening, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald addressed the Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner. The text that follows are the remarks as they were prepared:
Thank you, Senator Brown for that introduction.
Every time I see Senator Brown on national television, he is always fighting for the average working person in Ohio. Senator Brown sits at the desk that Robert Kennedy used while he was in the Senate. If you want to know what Robert Kennedy would be fighting for if he were alive today, just watch our Senator Sherrod Brown on the floor of the United States Senate any day of the week.
I had the privilege of speaking at this dinner a year ago. And I loved Ohio when I started running, but I can tell you that after over a year on the road, and traveling to all 88 counties, I have a deeper understanding and respect for the people who live here.
I have a better understanding about how our workers made products that we sent all over the world, how our veterans won two world wars and continue to respond every time their country calls them, how our innovators have done everything from biomedical miracles to the space program.
And I love how the different areas of Ohio complement each other – the farmland that feeds America, the Mahoning Valley, the Miami Valley, the steep hills in Appalachia, the vibrant life of our big cities, more than 20 colleges and universities, Toledo, and Mansfield and Steubenville and Athens and Akron – it all fits together, and complements each other in a way that is the true Ohio miracle.
As Governor Celeste used to say: America didn’t build Ohio, Ohio built America.
Ohio is great, and it’s because of the values of its people. Because as different as our hometowns may be, we share the same pride in our country, and our state, and we share the same respect for justice and for hard work.
Speaking of hard work, my campaigning in the last year has required me to be away from home more than I would like, but that doesn’t just require more work from me, but also from my wife Shannon, who is here with us tonight.
I want to tell you something about Shannon. In addition to raising our four kids with me, and listening to me as we go through this process, or at least pretending to listen to me, Shannon works Monday through Friday at a public school district, where she coordinates nutrition programs for children. And then on Saturdays, she works a second job at a hospital, where she works with patients who have special dietary needs. Now, a couple times during this campaign I’ve mentioned that my wife works two jobs, and I was always surprised that other people were surprised by that.
Because that’s reality for a lot of families in Ohio. I think its time we elected people to state office who understand what its actually like to work a real job, or two jobs, to try and have a better life for your children.
We’re here tonight to celebrate the legacy of the Democratic Party, and that’s what the democratic legacy is all about. We represent the people who struggle to make it, who work hard every day, two jobs, three jobs without complaining.
And they don’t expect a lot from government, but they do want government to be on their side when times are tough.
And here is what I know with absolute certainty from my travels in the last year. Those ordinary Ohioans are hurting, they’re struggling, they are barely holding on.
And instead of a governor who is on their side, they have one who sees it as his mission to help the very few in Ohio who have already made it.
When we’re in school, we learn that government is supposed to be of, by and for the people. And we hear that phrase so much, that sometimes it loses its meaning. Except when you do lose it. Because right now, under John Kasich, we have a state government that is being run by a small group of people, for a small group of people.
So let’s says you’re a wealthy CEO and you employ minimum wage workers. Well, then you got a tax cut, but your workers got a tax increase.
And if you run a for-profit charter school, then you got more money from the state, while public education took a half a billion cut.
And if you were turning 65 and made $31,000 a year, you lost your Homestead Exemption.
And if you were a police officer or a firefighter, not only did Governor Kasich try to take your rights away through Senate Bill 5, he also raided a billion dollars out of your budgets through the local government fund.
And all of these terrible decisions were made in support of the most discredited economic theory in the history of America – that if you just keep giving more money to those at the top, it will trickle down to the rest of us. And they just keep trying it over and over again, even though it never works. It didn’t work with Herbert Hoover in 1929 and it won’t work with John Kasich in 2014.
Just ask yourself this one simple question: Why did you become a Democrat in the first place? For most of us, it comes down to this – we want to represent the many and not the privileged few. And we have a governor who represent this small group. And they are not small, limited government conservatives. They are happy to use the power of government to spend your tax money when it benefits their friends.
There is an inside group and an outside group, and if you’re wondering which group you’re in, then you’re on the outside, because those in the inside group know it.
I think the most pivotal moment in this campaign came when the Governor described our state economy as a miracle – that tells you everything you need to know.
Over 400,000 Ohioans are out of work; our unemployment rate is higher than the national average; almost half the state is living paycheck to paycheck. We are 45th out of 50 in job creation. Who calls that a miracle?
I used to wonder how he could say that or believe that, but after traveling this state, I understand now.
It all comes down to this – Who do you listen to? Who do you meet with? Who are your friends? Do you even know anyone who works two jobs? How far removed are you from reality?
Let me give you the perfect example of what I’m talking about: last summer, a plant called Ormet, in Hannibal, a little town on the Ohio River, shut down. A thousand workers were thrown out of work, some of them just weeks away from retirement.
Both management and the workers sat down together to try and save the plant, and save their jobs. And they asked the Governor to meet with them, to help them come up with a solution, and see what the sate could do to save all of those jobs, and all of the families who were counting on those jobs.
And Governor Kasich refused.
And they asked him – labor and management – over and over again to meet with them. And over and over again he just refused.
And then those 1,000 workers gathered 10,000 signatures and they thought now, surely, the Governor will meet with us.
But, they were wrong. They misjudged him. He doesn’t represent them. They are not in the inside group. They were not invited to the miracle party that their tax money is paying for.
Now I’ve been down to Ormet twice, and I met with the workers, and I didn’t do a lot of talking. I mostly listened. They have a plan to save their jobs, and I hope they can hold on long enough for me to get into the governorship so that I can work with them.
And that is the difference between all of us and John Kasich. They won’t have to beg me to listen. They won’t have to get their neighbors to sign a petition. I’ll work with them because that’s what any decent governor would do.
We’ll work with them because we represent them, we work for them, we respect them, we know them. And when we win this fall, we’ll be running a government of the people by the people and for the people; because it’s a government, not a country club.
We are one election away from having the kind of state we need. Just one election – and we can have a state that invests in early childhood education, that respects the rights of workers to organize, that believes that women should have equal pay, and that all workers should have a decent wage.
One election will give us a state government that doesn’t rob local schools and communities, that actually expands the right to vote instead of suppressing it, that believes that government can be open and transparent and honest, instead of a private club.
One election away from a state that embraces real equality in housing, employment and marriage, that respects women’s rights in the workplace and in healthcare.
Governor Kasich never would have been elected if people knew what he had in store for our state. Well, now we know, and now we’ve got to act.
Yes, the other side has more money. They always do. When you run government for the benefit of the privileged few, they really appreciate it, and they are rewarding Governor Kasich just like you would expect them to.
But these issues you’ve heard about tonight are powerful and they are in the people’s best interest, and that is a very powerful thing. If a local elected official – a mayor, a township trustee, a county commissioner – was trying to do the these that these statewide officials have been doing, you would not hesitate, you would organize with your friends and neighbors to throw them out. And that’s exactly what we have to do – in every community – all of your communities – all across Ohio.
A lot of Ohioans are counting on us. It’s a privilege for us to represent them, so let’s get out there and return state government to the people.