By Marc Kovac
Larry Ealy didn’t call the Ohio Democratic Party or other state officials to give them a heads-up about his intended run for governor.
But he didn’t keep the decision all to himself, either.
“I told some people in my neighborhood and some people down there in the Montgomery County Jail on false charges,” the Dayton-area man said in a phone interview Thursday, the day after filing his papers to run for governor in the May primary. He added later, “I told some of the inmates I am running for governor and I will be back to clean this jail out.”
Ealy’s serious about his run for office, turning in more petition signatures than any other candidate — Democrat, Republican or otherwise — for statewide office Wednesday.
Pending confirmation of those signatures (he’ll need 1,000 valid names to proceed), Ealy would face Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in the Democratic primary May 6.
It would be the only contested race among statewide candidates.
The Ohio Democratic Party, which already has endorsed FitzGerald, declined to comment on Ealy’s candidacy.
A spokeswoman for FitzGerald’s campaign also declined to comment.
Ealy isn’t a politician, though he did attempt to run for mayor of Dayton. He hasn’t been to college, is single (separated, he said), has 10 children and is receiving disability payments.
“I’m just a citizen from Montgomery County, Ohio,” he said.
He also has faced assault and other criminal charges and has served jail time. He says he once sued the city of Dayton for $20 million and alleges an assault by law enforcement.
And he’s taught himself jurisprudence and has made numerous court filings on his own behalf and for other inmates who, he said, aren’t receiving proper legal assistance on their cases.
It’s a pattern, particularly in the black community, that Ealy wants to break.
“We’ve been privy to false charges, use of excessive force, denial of good jobs — there’s a host of issues that will be brought to the table that the governor has the authority to look into,” he said, adding later, “We can look at those records all day and look at the disparities in sentencing and more black people going to jail for the same problems.”
Ealy also is interested in tackling gang violence and drug-addiction issues and creating economic opportunities for Ohioans. He wants to provide jobs to young people, in particular, so they don’t turn to lives of crime on the streets.
“The rich and the state legislative body and other officials are going to have to take a pay cut,” he said, adding, “We need to bring jobs back to Ohio and keep the big corporations here because they’ve been moved out. And we need to put major retail stores in the heart of the black community so we can self-generate our own income and grow in a way that other communities grow.”
Ealy will have an uphill battle if he qualifies for the primary ballot, facing a candidate with more than $1 million in his campaign coffers and the backing of the state party.
“I’m going to do what I have to do,” he said. “I don’t have any money. I don’t think that’s going to cause me to lose. They’re going to elect who’s the best man.”
Ealy isn’t necessarily opposed to FitzGerald. In fact, he said he called the endorsed candidate “a pretty good guy.”
“I have no beef with Mr. FitzGerald,” he said. “If Mr. FitzGerald handles these issues, I have no problem. ... If I don’t win, I’m pushing for Mr. FitzGerald. I have no choice. I’m a Democrat.”