YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald attended a meet and greet with the Valley's Democratic Party at the Lemon Grove Cafe on Tuesday. While he would not officially confirm his run for governor, he says he will make an announcement sometime this spring.
"It's a big challenge. I think I'm up to the challenge but I wanted to make sure I really put together a team that was going to be able to run a really agressive campaign," FitzGerald says.
Last month, Governor John Kasich's job approval rating was the highest it's been since taking office.
In a recent visit to the Valley, the governor drew applause when he talked about the state's financial situation. Kasish says when he took office, he inherited an $8 billion deficit. Two year's later, it's now a $2 billion surplus.
Opponents argue that the surplus was gained on the backs of local government and schools.
"Where I come from that's not really being fiscally responsible. It's basically theft, I mean, what he did was he took local government funds and he sucked it right out of local communities and he sent it down to Columbus," FitzGerald says.
When Fitzgerlad was asked how he would handle the state's budget, he said just as he did as a mayor and county official, by combining services.
"We saved a lot of money at the county level, where I am. We have a balanced budget. We did not raise taxes and we didn't steal money from local government either," he says.
21 News Political Analyst Dr. William Binning believes Fitzgerald may become a spokesperson for local government.
"He probably wants to be a voice for the constituency, speak for the city, speak for the townships, etc ... that we have cut and haven't made whole yet," Binning says.
As for the election itself, Dr. Binning says it's too early to predict how tight of a race it might be.
"If economy continues to to improve in Ohio, John Kasich will be very difficult to beat. If on the other hand, the economy stalls, then FitzGerald, who we assume will be the nominee, will have a good chance at winning," Binning says.