Your mayor in 2014? Luke?
This shocker conceivably could spawn a sequel.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has proven himself adept at the abrupt about-face, as a paraphrasing of his most significant recent public pronouncements attests. Let's compare:
• Ravenstahl, Feb. 18: “In formally kicking off my re-election campaign, I want to point out that Pittsburgh has made significant progress during my six-plus years as mayor. I want to continue to build on that progress.”
• Ravenstahl, March 1: “In formally ending my re-election campaign, I want to point out that I am not a target of the federal investigation into the Police Bureau. Don't take my word for it. Ask the defense attorney I've hired.”
Quite a contrast, no?
Ravenstahl's stunning exit represents a golden opportunity for city Councilman Bill Peduto and city Controller Michael Lamb, who were in the mayoral race. His departure further crowded the field, with state Auditor General Jack Wagner, city Council President Darlene Harris and state Sen. Jim Ferlo of Highland Park saying they will run and others considering entering the fray.
Even the sea otter at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is said to be mulling its options.
But contenders and pretenders alike should carefully consider the circumstances of the past several weeks before ramping up their campaigns.
Ravenstahl changed his mind and got out of the race. What's to stop him from changing it again and getting back in?
He no longer is a player in the Democratic primary. But at the moment, no reason exists why he couldn't run in the general election as an independent candidate, Allegheny County Elections Director Mark Wolosik confirmed on Tuesday.
Tactical advantages would appear to exist for him to do just that.
A few months could be enough time for investigators to prove or disprove the mayor's assertion he did nothing wrong in matters relating to the police department's curious financial matters. If he successfully distances himself from the probe that was crippling his candidacy, he might decide another abrupt about-face is in order.
Also, by sitting out the primary, the mayor lets the other Democratic candidates cannibalize each other. The survivor emerges battered, broke and having to face a revitalized Ravenstahl and his $900,000 campaign war chest.
Would his re-entry into the race be a shocker? Certainly. But no more so than his abdication announcement.
Perhaps the other shoe has yet to drop in this political soap opera. Ravenstahl tellingly did not rule out another run for public office. Who's to say it won't occur this fall?
As Election Day approaches, don't be surprised if pedestrian passers-by spot Ravenstahl on the roof of the City-County Building.
Don't be surprised if they look up to find him dangling a Florsheim over their heads.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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