Pittsburgh mayoral race all about $$$$$$$
By Joseph Sabino Mistick
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The 2013 race for Pittsburgh mayor, once thin broth with a few ingredients and a little spice, is now a thick minestrone.
Gone is the three-person May primary that would have focused on Luke Ravenstahl's behavior. And gone, too, is the possible independent candidate who would have run in the fall if Ravenstahl had won in May.
With Ravenstahl out of the race, original challengers Bill Peduto, a city councilman, and Controller Michael Lamb can finally draw some attention to the issues. And they are being joined by a growing field that might include Council President Darlene Harris, former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, state Sens. Jim Ferlo and Wayne Fontana and others.
While anyone can win, accidental candidates, now entering the fray because of Ravenstahl's unexpected withdrawal, are starting from behind. Their first hurdle is to collect 250 signatures on nominating petitions just to get on the ballot. Pittsburgh Democrats can sign only one candidate's petition and the usual suspects might have already signed for the earlier-declared candidates.
And it is not a task to be done in haste, since each petition and signature likely will be challenged in court. Court challenges are often successful, meaning that far more than 250 signatures must be gathered. All of this requires time and attention away from the campaign trail.
Accidental candidates may be disappointed to find that this time they cannot count on the political endorsements they enjoyed in their past campaigns. Months before any election, candidates gather the endorsements of community groups and labor unions, many requiring membership votes at meetings that have already taken place.
These endorsements, some of which come with campaign contributions, are a wholesale way to gather support. For those candidates who enter a race abruptly without time to build an organization, the volunteer base provided by these groups can help. But both the endorsement problem and the signature requirement pale when compared to the final hurdle.
The real currency of politics is currency. And here is where accidental candidates are most vulnerable, especially since this is the first mayoral election to take place under Pittsburgh's own campaign finance regulations. Contributions to candidates for mayor in the primary are limited to $2,000 per individual and $4,000 per political committee.
Any candidate who was hoping to inherit a chunk of the Ravenstahl campaign fund to jump-start his or her own belated campaign for mayor might think twice because of this. And the same contribution limit applies to any campaign funds that a candidate raised while running for another office. The law might end up in court, but that is what the law says.
While the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., was given to hyperbole, he identified the biggest problem faced by candidates who declare late and are unable to tap a sizable chunk of campaign funds to begin their endeavor:
“Money! It is money! Money! Money! Not ideas, nor principles, but money that reigns supreme in American politics,” Byrd declared.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (SabinoMistick@aol.com).
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.
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of regulation en route to OT win at Clemson
- Penguins notebook: Fleury feeling sharp entering tough stretch
- Led by Kittanning’s Nolf, 3 locals win Class AA state wrestling titles
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Man injured in fight outside South Side bar
- Pirates notebook: Liriano looks to complete consecutive quality seasons
- Spring training breakdown: Pirates 10, Rays 5
- Robert Morris advances to NEC title game
- Parents of ‘spoiled’ teen urge her to return home
- Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak