Columbus — Two top aides have left the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, and additional staff changes were expected to be announced later in the week.
Campaign manager Nick Buis and communications director Daniel McElhatton are no longer working full time toward FitzGerald’s election, spokeswoman Lauren Hitt confirmed Aug. 19.
Chip Shannon, who has served as FitzGerald’s political director since early 2013 and former deputy political director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign in Ohio, will take over as campaign manager, Hitt said.
Additional campaign staff changes were to be announced on Aug. 22.
FitzGerald remained on the trail this week, with additional stops planned in coming days.
And Hitt countered assertions that the campaign had imploded.
In an email statement, she offered, “This week’s staff changes are part of a purposeful, strategic shift to maximize resources and ensure the best chance of success not only for Ed and Sharen [Neuhardt, his running mate] but also for the entire statewide Democratic ticket.”
The changes come on the heels of revelations that FitzGerald drove for years with a learner’s permit and without a valid driver’s license.
That disclosure came after FitzGerald was found in a car in a suburban Cleveland parking lot early one morning a couple of years ago with a woman from a visiting Irish delegation. He has said the two had stopped to check directions, and nothing improper occurred.
The most recent Quinnipiac University poll had Kasich up by 12 points over FitzGerald, and the former continued to outraise the latter in campaign contributions, taking in another $2 million in a filing earlier this month versus FitzGerald’s $533,000.
“At the end of the day there are two people responsible for Ed FitzGerald and the Democrats’ problems: Ed FitzGerald and whoever recruited him to run and cleared the field for him,” Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Schrimpf said in a released statement.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.