The annual Summit County Democrats' Valentine Party is a modest family reunion of officeholders and staffers for a couple of hours of schmoozing over finger food and whatever the bar will allow. This year's $25-per-person event at the Tangier also offered the locals a glimpse of one and maybe two state candidates on the 2014 ballot,
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, one of the party's fresher faces, made the rounds , clasping welcoming hands and offering a brief talk on the ills sprouting from the Kasich administration from taxation to school district funding. It's the sort of thing he's been saying all over the state in weighing his own decision on whether to challenge the governor.
He told me afterward that he will decide in March on whether to run. The big question, of course, is whether he can be encouraged by the campaign cash that will be available. That won't be a problem for Kasich, who's isn't likely to be flying tourist class between now and election day.
If anything is certain at this stage it's that State Sen. Nina Turner, a Clevelander, is already making her presence felt as an energized candidate for Secretary of State. She became a frequent guest on national television during the presidential campaign as a leading critic of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (he, of the Husted Hustle) who was dead set on restricting the turnout in November. His mission, he said, was to eliminate fraud - a chestnut that a few other Republicans conceded was a not-so-sly effort to elect Mitt Romney.
Turner has also placed herself on national TV as in the most outspoken vanguard for women's rights. She didn't hestitate to tell the Democratic Valentiners that she's just getting started. Cheaters, she insisted, should never win. With her on the stump, it won't be a campaign for the faint-of-heart.