Pittsburgh City Council chief Harris eyes mayor's job
Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris changed her political party affiliation last month from Democrat to Independent to preserve her ability to run for mayor, should Mayor Luke Ravenstahl step down, she said.
The Spring Hill Independent has not ruled out a run against Democratic nominee and council colleague Bill Peduto in the Nov. 5 election.
“With the FBI, the mayor deciding he wasn't going to run, and everything that was happening in the city, I had to keep all my options open,” Harris, 60, said on Thursday. “I haven't ruled anything in or out.”
Ravenstahl, 33, who recently moved to Fineview, has repeatedly said he is not a target of a federal grand jury investigating the city police bureau. However, his personal secretary and bodyguards have appeared before the panel. Investigators have inquired about the remodeling of Ravenstahl's home by a company owned by a New Homestead man who has received $2.3 million in city construction contracts since 2010.
Harris would face an uphill challenge should she decide to take on Peduto, according to Democratic strategist Mike Mikus.
“I think the fact that Bill Peduto won by such a wide margin on Tuesday shows that he will be very difficult to beat in the fall by Darlene Harris or any other independent candidate who might emerge,” Mikus said.
Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze wasn't surprised by the switch.
He and Harris have been political adversaries for several years, and Harris supported Peduto's chief primary opponent, former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, 65, of Beechview.
“I think there are those who have controlled this city for a long time who are unhappy with Tuesday's results and will try to find a candidate to run against me,” Peduto said.
As council president, Harris is first in line to replace Ravenstahl, but would have to relinquish her council seat to do that. She said uncertainty surrounding Ravenstahl prompted her to switch parties on April 22.
As an independent, Harris could not vote for Wagner in the Democratic primary and was forced to give up her chairmanship of the 26th Ward Democratic Committee.
Mikus noted that the late Mayor Richard Caliguiri won as an independent candidate in the 1980s, but said it would be near impossible for Harris to overcome Peduto's party backing, organization and financial advantage.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Inmate assaults Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputy at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital
- 11 vying to temporarily fill Danko’s vacant seat on Allegheny County Council
- Homicide by vehicle trial closes; verdict Monday
- Bethel Park teacher’s profane tweet raises eyebrows
- With space to spare, Pittsburgh International draws corporate jet carrier
- Allegheny Intermediate Unit to distribute $530,000 in STEAM grants to 28 school districts
- Dormont man missing since Wednesday found dead at Station Square
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto works to smooth path for business ties with Cuba
- Pittsburgh police arrest Overbrook man for Allentown playground shooting
- State lawmaker proposes changes to Penn State’s board of trustees
- Police seek help finding missing Squirrel Hill man