The media wrecking crew that first destroyed, then seemingly doomed Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s hopes of unseating Ohio’s little loved and royally flawed Republican governor, John Kasich, has moved on to other jobs and new vistas.  One of the crew’s foremen, Cleveland Plain Dealer political reporter Henry Gomez, clearly thinks FitzGerald is such a foregone loser that he’s set his on future races.

Last week, Mr. Gomez sent five questions to his “best Democratic sources” for non-attributable responses.  Those questions were used as the basis for his “What’s Next?” story, published in the PD last week; a story whose sole purpose was to show that Democrats are abandoning FitzGerald (albeit anonymously and non-attributably).  It seems clear these questions, focused on future races, are a sign that his beat blueprint will focus on informing voters that Democrats have weak candidates and Republicans will win by default.

Gomez will argue that Democrats don’t have what it takes to be competitive in a state that has been all red Republican for 16 of the last 18 years.  With the exception of four short years from 2006-2010, when Democrats controlled four of Ohio’s statewide offices, they have been down and out of power.  Also recall that for 18 of those 20 years, the General Assembly was likewise controlled by Republicans. The Gomez-led wrecking crew has let virtually all of John Kasich’s elephant-sized issues slow-walk by them unnoticed. But they earned their bones by zeroing in on the minutia of details that involved FitzGerald’s driving license snafu and his innocent, but awkward scene involving an Irish trade delegation member who was not his wife. They never proved anything torrid or scandalous actually occurred, but the suspicions — the hint that sex was involved — left FitzGerald to twist in the wind as Team Kasich smiled that their hounds from another kennel were on the hunt.

Already tilling his fields in order to plant speculative seeds of poison for the Ohio Democratic Party and its future candidates, Gomez sent these five questions to those people he called “my best Democratic sources.” Muddying minds is a disservice reporters deliver to their readers. It looks like there will be more unhelpful, confusing “horse race” coverage without knowing any details of the track, who owns it and who else is in the race, and whether weather conditions favor mudders or not.

Not every horse is a winner, of course, but to hobble a horse so it can’t run is not the job of newspaper reporters – that’s the job of political operatives. Gomez hit FitzGerald, to the delight of Kasich, by creating a field only Kasich could play on without fear of being tackled or sacked. Putting Democrats on the defensive, as his questions do, by default presents Republicans as winners because Democrats won’t be able to compete in a house built by and for Republicans.

In his email to Democratic insiders, Gomez points out that “a few national observers — the Washington Post, in particular — have remarked that the troubles with Ed FitzGerald’s campaign signify a weak Democratic bench in Ohio. There has been speculation that this situation — especially if no down-ballot Democrat pulls through this fall — could hurt the party in the 2016 Senate election and 2018 race for governor.”

He then asks a series of questions to his “best Democratic sources, on background and not for attribution.”  We’ve included those questions below, along with some suggestions for questions a less biased reporter might have asked…

1. Who’s the Democratic frontrunner for the U.S. Senate race in 2016?

Few voters have paid attention to the races this year, and Labor Day has come and gone. You don’t know what’s going to happen next week, so isn’t it totally silly totally premature to engage in wild speculation about “what ifs” two years out?

How about this question instead: “What will John Kasich say and what will Ohio do when JobsOhio is found to be unconstitutional,” as it will be if it ever reaches the Supreme Court of Ohio?”

2. Which other Democrats could be strong contenders for this race?

How about this question instead: “Why was it OK for John Kasich to overthrow a legitimate and tested Republican Party Leader like Kevin Dewine and replace him with a convicted influence peddler like Matt Borges?

3. Who’s the Democratic frontrunner for governor in 2018?

How about this question instead: “Why did John Kasich leverage Ohio assets to the hilt like Lehman Brothers leveraged itself, leading to its downfall and extinction when the housing bubble burst? Did Kasich learn nothing about what triggered the Great Recession?”

4. Which other Democrats could be strong contenders for this race?

How about this question instead” “Who paid for Kasich’s trip to Davos, Switzerland, to hob nob with the rich and famous?” Recall, The Dispatch sent Joe Vardon to cover the the Great Deregulartor in action.

5. What do you see as Ed FitzGerald’s next move?

How about this question instead: “How would the Dispatch’s credibility be affected if the public knew that it contributed to Kasich and has invested in Drive Capital, Kasich’s Silicon Valley buddy Mark Kvamme’s venture capital investment group?”

  • dmoore2222

    People made their minds up on how they were going to over three years ago. Nothing has happened that will change that.

  • How about this question – How many years would county prosecutor Ed FitzGerald seek to throw you in jail if you drove around for 10 years without a license or insurance? I’m the last guy on earth to defend Henry Gomez, but given that I warned Ohio Democrats, on this blog, in 2010, just what a disaster in waiting Ed FitzGerald was back then, a post which has since been deleted from this blog, Gomez is quite obviously not the problem here.

  • jr6020

    You’re right..the ODP bigwigs (and many others) didn’t do any due diligence or didn’t care. But Kasich is not liked by a lot of voters and the CD and PD know this. Are you wondering like me why the CD did not release any Poll on Labor day weekend like they usually do during the year of a Governor’s race? Me thinks the race is much closer then they expected and decided to sit on the results until all the anti-Fits attacks have had their desired effect…Just a thought…

  • I wonder less about the papers in the state than our own house. This blog deleting the one critical post about Fitz is far more problematic, and solvable, than anything we might dream up about about the PD’s motives. We know the PD and the Dispatch aren’t friendly to Democrats, that’s given. The variables we can control as Democrats are far more important. For example, we knew the PD would cheerlead for the sin tax (Issue 7), why did elected Cuyahoga Democrats do the same, when the sin tax took money from the poor and shoveled it to the rich by hundreds of millions? How is that a Democratic value? And how did Ohio Democrats put themselves in the position of defending a statewide nominee who handed that money over with his own pen?

  • Misnomer Thom

    These are all good questions but there’s been a serious lack of enthusiasm from Dems right from the get go and that’s on Ed and the ODP. Few people in the state and the whole country were excited by Fitz’s candidacy as they didn’t know who he was and they knew he lacked campaign experience. When Ed bungled the LG nominee, the air got sucked right out of the room. It looked like amateur hour and many of the big donors decided to pass right then as it was obvious Ed didn’t have what it takes to run a serious organized campaign.

    The sad part is Ed is might drag down a strong slate. Just this past weekend, I was at a local event in a very purple area. The local GOP was out in full force passing out literature. The Dems? Nowhere to be found. What a blown opportunity from top to bottom.

  • stryx

    Hey, pariah! Or is it Cassandra? What are you going to start talking about now, how heads should have rolled at ODP when the Dems lost all the statewide offices and the Republicans got to draw the next decade’s worth of Congressional districts? ‘Cause that would be craaazzy.

  • Retrofuturistic

    Sounds like things people say when they’re getting ready to hack another election.

  • Some call me “Tim”!

  • I wonder how long my comments will remain “in moderation” LOL

  • Erica Leslie

    “Ohio’s little loved and royally flawed Republican governor, John Kasich”???
    Quinnipiac’s July 30th poll shows the contrary. “Ohio voters approve 55 – 31 percent of the job Kasich is doing”.
    “A total of 60 percent of Ohio voters are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in the state, while 39 percent are somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

    Kasich gets strong character scores, while FitzGerald remains plagued by lack of voter recognition:Voters say 66 – 25 percent that the governor has strong leadership qualities, compared to 36 – 18 percent, with 46 percent undecided, for FitzGerald;

    Kasich is honest and trustworthy, voters say 52 – 34 percent, compared to 34 – 19 percent, with 47 percent undecided, for the Democrat;

    The governor cares about their needs and problems, voters say 48 – 41 percent, compared to FitzGerald’s 36 – 24 percent, with 41 percent undecided;

    Voters say 53 – 36 percent that Kasich has good judgment, compared to FitzGerald at 32 – 18 percent, with 49 percent undecided.The incumbent tops the challenger on handling important issues:49 – 33 percent on the economy and jobs;

    50 – 31 percent on taxes;

    42 – 36 percent on education;

    50 – 31 percent on government spending;

    36 – 32 percent on abortion;

    43 – 33 percent on health care.”

    Those pesky facts seem to get in the way of Plunderbund’s agenda, don’t they?

  • Thanks for the comments, Tim.

    As you know, a lot has changed at Plunderbund since you left in 2010. But so we are clear: what does and does not appear on the site is exclusively our call, and we are under no obligation to keep every post written by every writer over the almost decade of Plunderbund’s existence.

  • All true, which begs the question. Why is that particular post gone?

  • cat got your tongue?

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