By Marc Kovac
The head of the Ohio Democratic Party said he was unaware of Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s past driver’s license status in advance of the latter’s candidacy for governor.
State Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, said he first learned that the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful drove for years with a learner’s permit from news reports.
“No one was aware that he had had a training permit off and on for the eight or nine, 10 years I think the reporting has been,” Redfern said when asked about the issue during a press conference Thursday. “No one knew that until it was reported in the newspaper.”
Redfern said he discussed the issue with FitzGerald and his campaign when it came to light earlier this week.
“Ed said he’s a horrible procrastinator,” Redfern said. “He apologized profusely. He said that he couldn’t believe that he put it off that long. ... He couldn’t believe it, nor could I, but he apologized to me and he apologized to his wife and family and his constituents.”
Late last week, FitzGerald acknowledged being in a car with a woman who was not his wife early one morning about two years ago. He said nothing improper was going on; the woman was a member of an Irish delegation visiting the city, and the two had stopped to find directions to a hotel after becoming separated from another vehicle.
The Columbus Dispatch and Cleveland Plain Dealer subsequently reported that FitzGerald did not have a valid driver’s license on the night in question or over a number of years, when he at times possessed only a learner’s permit.
FitzGerald has been off the campaign trail for a part of the week. In a letter to supporters Thursday, he said he was focused on a cancer scare involving one of his children. His campaign announced that he would be back on the road today, with a series of stops focused on Toledo water issues.