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Ravenstahl has wide lead in fundraising for mayor's race

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 6:02 p.m.

Political observers say Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's nearly 4-to-1 fundraising advantage over his closest competitor makes him a clear favorite in this year's mayoral race.

Ravenstahl on Thursday reported $909,695 cash on hand through January, according to his campaign finance report filed with the Allegheny County Elections Division.

City Councilman Bill Peduto and Controller Michael Lamb reported having $260,942 and $212,088, respectively, as of Dec. 31.

Lamb lent himself $50,000, records show. At least $87,000 of Ravenstahl's war chest could only be spent on the general election because city ordinance caps contributions in an election cycle.

State law required candidates to file reports by 5 p.m. Thursday for money raised and spent in 2012. Ravenstahl submitted an early report for January.

“Generally speaking, money brings you victory,” said Joseph DiSarro, who chairs the Department of Political Science at Washington & Jefferson College. “When you're raising nearly $1 million, it means you have the confidence of the people.”

Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze, and Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington are challenging Ravenstahl, 32, of Summer Hill for the Democratic nod in the May 21 primary.

The Peduto and Lamb campaigns said they expected Ravenstahl's money advantage, but cash won't buy an election. Peduto campaign spokeswoman Sonya Toler said Peduto is on track to raise $1 million, an amount he previously speculated would be needed to win.

“I think we overcome that monetary disparity by focusing on reaching our goal and continuing to do the kind of work that Bill Peduto has already done in reaching out to a variety of different communities throughout the city, saying, ‘This is the record that I stand on and this is what I want to do for the city,' ” she said.

Noting that Lamb officially announced his campaign this month, campaign manager Anne Batchelder predicted he would eventually have plenty of cash.

“We have a message that's resonating and will continue to resonate,” she said. “That's what determines elections, not just the financial standing.”

DiSarro said Ravenstahl likely filed an early report for January to show off his fundraising power and scare off potential Peduto and Lamb supporters.

“The mayor's got some good momentum and a lot of support behind him,” campaign spokesman Matt Harringer said.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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