Heyl: Not all who Wander are lost, but he is
Josh Wander certainly is living up to his last name.
Pittsburgh mayoral candidates traditionally spend the weeks leading up to the election campaigning in neighborhoods such as Shadyside, Brookline and Sheraden. There's a certain logic to that approach, as city neighborhoods tend to be places where city voters congregate.
Wander, 42, the Republican mayoral nominee, has chosen a different tack. He is working as a private security consultant in Israel, which certainly calls into question the effectiveness of his door-knocking efforts:
(Doorbell rings, homeowner opens door.)
“Hello. My name is Josh Wander, and I'm running for mayor of Pittsburgh. Can I have a moment of your time?”
“Pittsburgh? You mean in the United States?”
“Yes, that's right.”
“But … this is Tel Aviv.”
“I know. I'd still like to tell you about the exciting plans I have for moving Pittsburgh forward. Can I come in?”
Wander was a longshot, at best, to defeat Mayor-almost-elect Bill Peduto, the Democratic nominee and prohibitive-to-the-ninth-power favorite to win the election. But his inability to remain in the country, let alone the city, must have city Republicans regretting they did not instead nominate a block of Muenster cheese.
At least they'd know the cheese could make it to the upcoming mayoral debates, provided Peduto agreed to hold them all in a refrigerated case at Giant Eagle.
In a story in Wednesday's Trib, Wander stated via email that he would attempt to make it home in ample time before the Nov. 5 election. He didn't provide a specific date. He also hinted his super-secret security duties first could take him to Kenya, another place with a noticeable dearth of people eligible to vote for him.
A Kenya stop would leave Wander with even less time to deliver his message here before the election. Not only that, he'd run the risk of having terrorist group al-Shabab steal his campaign signs from the yards of confused Kenyans wondering who placed them there in the first place.
Wander's international travels aren't the only thing fueling the perception that he isn't taking the mayoral bid seriously.
The fact that he sold his Squirrel Hill home three weeks ago might have some voters questioning his commitment to Pittsburgh. This despite Wander's contention that he maintains city residency by renting a house in Squirrel Hill that he and his family presently do not inhabit because they are in Israel.
No wonder Wander's campaign spokesman, Nathan Catalano, resigned on Wednesday. With his candidate out of the country, there really wasn't much for the poor guy to do but twiddle his thumbs and wait to see if The Jerusalem Post endorsed Wander over Peduto.
Not that an endorsement would make a difference. Expect Wander to overwhelmingly lose the election, then amble off to the destination where candidates who run this kind of a campaign richly deserve to be.
Expect him to wander off into obscurity.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.