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Candidate lacked driver's license for decade

CLEVELAND – The Democrat running for Ohio governor had been without a permanent driver’s license for more than 10 years when police found him in his car with a woman who was not his wife early one morning in October 2012.

Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald’s license expired in 2002, and he didn’t get a new permanent one until November 2012, his campaign spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, said Wednesday.

FitzGerald had scheduled his license renewal several times, but things kept coming up, she said.

“He recognizes that that’s not an acceptable excuse, and there’s no excuse for not having a full license for a decade,” Hitt told the Associated Press. “He fully regrets it and has apologized.”

Ohio records show FitzGerald had temporary permits starting in 2008, but he lacked one for more than a year until he got a license.

FitzGerald’s driving record has drawn scrutiny because of the 2012 incident, first reported last week.

The leader of the state’s most populous county, FitzGerald had only a temporary instruction permit when a worker called police in the Cleveland suburb of Westlake at about 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2012, to report suspicious activity at the park.

FitzGerald later identified the woman in the car as Joanne Grehan, who was part of an Irish delegation visiting the region.

He told reporters Friday that others in the delegation were traveling separately and had gotten lost. He said was trying to connect with them.

A police officer noted in a brief report having talked to Fitzgerald but did not cite him.

If Grehan had a valid Irish driver’s license at the time, it would have been legal for FitzGerald to drive with her in the car.

But if FitzGerald dropped Grehan off at her hotel and drove home or anywhere else by himself, he would have broken the law, a minor misdemeanor with a maximum $150 fine.

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