Share This Page

Labor group won't endorse candidate for Pittsburgh mayor

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 7:00 p.m.

Pittsburgh mayoral candidates said they would seek support from individual unions after the Allegheny County Labor Council decided not to endorse anyone Friday.

“Although we're disappointed not to have been able to earn the endorsement of the labor council, we are going to now work to earn the endorsement of all the separate unions,” City Councilman Bill Peduto said. Labor Council President Jack Shea said two-thirds support was necessary for an endorsement. He wouldn't disclose how many members voted.

“Really, there wasn't anybody that took off and ran with it, and it's because every time you look at the papers there's a new candidate,” Shea said.

Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze and Controller Michael Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington — the only declared candidates for the Democratic nomination in the May 21 primary election — were seeking the labor nod along with Council President Darlene Harris, 60, of the North Side and former Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Wagner, 65, of Beechview, who has been considering a campaign for mayor, said for the first time Friday that he is in the race to stay.

“I'm running,” Wagner said while leaving the IBEW Local 5, union hall at South Side Works where the labor council met.

Gerald Shuster, professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh, said Wagner's presence likely influenced the endorsement vote.

“My read is Peduto expected that endorsement,” he said. “The fact that they didn't endorse anybody suggests that the entrance of Jack Wagner into this election affected the vote because he is a friend of labor.”

Harris said her late entrance into the race affected her chances for winning the endorsement.

“There were some people who had given their word to other candidates before I jumped in, and I understand,” she said.

Lamb's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The other three candidates who are considering a run did not apply for an endorsement. They are Sen. Jim Ferlo, 61, of Highland Park; state Sen. Wayne Fontana, 62, of Brookline, and Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson, 71, of Schenley Heights.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, 33, of Summer Hill dropped out of the race last week, citing nonstop media scrutiny over an FBI investigation into the city police bureau and the effects of public life on himself and his family.

The labor council represents about 100,000 union members and has been a powerful voice in Pittsburgh elections, but doesn't have the same influence that it did decades ago, Shuster said.

“This is not the Pittsburgh of 30 years ago where unions carried the weight,” he said. “Probably there is some influence, but the difference between winning and losing the election is not going to be on the basis of whether or not you win the endorsement.”

Candidates for mayor along with those seeking endorsements for City Council seats and Allegheny County judgeships appeared throughout the day for 10-minute closed interviews with labor council members.

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

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.