Pittsburgh Democrats endorse city Controller Lamb for mayor
Pittsburgh Democrats endorsed city Controller Michael Lamb for mayor on Sunday, but political insiders say the party nod carries little weight in a wide-open race with multiple prominent candidates.
Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington was the only candidate up for the party's consideration once Mayor Luke Ravenstahl dropped out of the race. Only Lamb and Ravenstahl sought the endorsement. Ravenstahl, the apparent favorite, fractured the committee when he withdrew from the race Feb. 28 after the deadline for requesting party support passed, political insiders said.
“This will probably be the least observed endorsement that we've had in a long time because of the evolving circumstances of the mayor's (withdrawal),” said Marty Marks, a Democratic political operative.
Jim Burn, who chairs the state Democratic Committee, said members are bound by party rules to support endorsed candidates, but it doesn't always happen. The Allegheny County Democratic Committee and its Pittsburgh delegation also endorsed candidates for Pittsburgh City Council, Allegheny County judge, Pittsburgh Public Schools board and uncontested races for sheriff and district judge.
“The rule says the endorsement is binding, but it doesn't have any teeth in it,” Burn said. “It doesn't give you any instruction on what to do if somebody violates it.”
City Councilman Bill Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze is the only other declared mayoral candidate, but five others are considering a run. Former Auditor General Jack Wagner, 65, of Beechview said he would likely declare his candidacy later this week. Other candidates include city Councilwoman Darlene Harris, 60, of the North Side, state Sen. Jim Ferlo, 61, of Highland Park, state Sen. Wayne Fontana, 62, of Brookline and Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson, 71, of Schenley Heights.
Candidates have until Tuesday to file nominating papers with the county election office for their names to appear on May 21 primary ballots. All of the candidates said they were seeking a required 250 signatures of registered city voters.
Lamb said the endorsement will help his campaign considerably.
“In a Democratic primary, there are few endorsements that are more helpful and meaningful than the endorsement of the Democratic Party,” he said.
Insiders said Ravenstahl's withdrawal left committee members scrambling to throw their support behind a candidate they think can win.
“When the mayor left this race, the dynamic changed completely,” said Darrin Kelly, who chairs the Pittsburgh firefighters union's political action committee, which endorsed Ravenstahl. “This is a very unusual situation in that there's only one candidate here for the endorsement.”
Fitzgerald, who supports Peduto, said an endorsement is not always a deciding factor.
“Two years ago, four city council members were not endorsed, and all four candidates still won,” he said. “Tom Flaherty was the endorsed candidate for mayor in 1989 with five people in the race. He came in fifth.”
The scene outside the IBEW Local 5 union hall in the South Side where Democrats voted resembled a Steelers tailgate party, with recreational vehicles and large, smoky barbecue grills in parking lots. Candidates and their sign-carrying supporters passed out soft drinks, chicken, ribs and other barbecued goodies.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates analyst Kent Tekulve recovering after heart transplant
- New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season
- Pitt football coach Chryst refutes analyst Wannstedt’s opinion
- Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
- Wheel separation incidents can prove deadly; NTSB doesn’t track them
- Steelers’ Brown combats disruptive defensive ploys
- Unprepared law firms vulnerable to hackers
- Woman killed after car hits tree in Norvelt
- Monz resigns as Carlynton football coach
- Woman killed in crash on Birmingham Bridge
- Border not target for ISIS, officials say, flights are