CLEVELAND -- Members of the Statehouse Press Corps came to the Cleveland Convention Center to cover Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald's grand finale 'State of the County' Speech.
They weren't here so much to learn about the ups and downs of the county. They came to sample the record FitzGerald will be taking on the road to voters in his race for governor.
FitzGerald offered a laundry list of accomplishments, including opening the new Convention Center early and under budget, creating new mandatory ethics training and standards for county workers and contractors to replace the old "Gimme" government of Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo, setting up college savings accounts for kindergarten students, bankrolling new businesses and suburban infrastructure projects and consolidating emergency dispatch centers and creating a system that will let residents get emergency e-mails and text messages.
A new Quinnipiac poll shows FitzGerald gaining ground on Kasich. He's down 43-38 percent, two points closer than November.
Apparently, bad publicity from having to dump a financially troubled lieutenant governor candidate did not do much damage.
"It's a good record, I am very proud of....The challenge is to cut through the noise and the nonsense of the campaign. Remember what happened here is a success story. The people in Cuyahoga County know it. But it's a complicated story. It's not going to be portrayed accurately by our opponent," FitzGerald said.
Attending the speech at the new Convention Cente, Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost offered an alternative view of FitzGerald's record and speech.
"It was a pretty low-energy speech...There were only two times the audience spontaneously applauded. ....It seemed to me Ed just wanted to make his last State of the County speech, " Frost said.
Governor John Kasich's speech-making skills will be on display Monday night when he makes the State of the State speech in Medina, guaranteeing coverage in FitzGerald's hometown media market.
FitzGerald also announced plans to have a sequel to the Great Lakes Exposition that showcased Cleveland in the 1930's.
That will be in 2016, when he is hoping to visit as governor.