Ravenstahl nets $781,510 toward re-election bid
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has raised more than double the money that Councilman Bill Peduto has in the race for mayor, a gap the Peduto campaign promised to close as the May primary approaches.
Ravenstahl, 32, of Summer Hill, who became mayor in 2006 and is seeking election to his second full four-year term, announced Tuesday his campaign has raised $781,510.
Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze announced this month that he's collected $329,671. City Controller Michael Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington, who plans to formally declare his candidacy on Wednesday, declined to reveal how much he has raised.
Peduto, who boasts 750 donors and has said he is depending heavily on grassroots support, promised to raise $1 million
“We've raised a third of it by the end of the year,” he said. “We'll raise $1 million, and that's what we feel it will take to win this race regardless of what Luke raises.”
Candidates have until Jan. 31 to file campaign finance reports with the Allegheny County Elections Division. Their final report is due 30 days after the May 21 primary.
Joseph DiSarro, who chairs the Department of Political Science at Washington & Jefferson College, said the importance of candidates having plenty of cash on hand to spread their message can't be underestimated.
“When you have more money in American politics ... you tend to win the election,” DiSarro said.
Election observers said Lamb and Peduto have an uphill battle to unseat the incumbent Ravenstahl, who won the general election four years ago with 55 percent of the vote. They are Ravenstahl's only announced Democratic challengers. Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner of Beechview has said he's considering running but has not committed.
No Republican candidates have emerged.
Gerald Shuster, professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh, said the race is shaping up nicely for Ravenstahl.
“I have to think the mayor is very happy that there are two challengers in the race,” Shuster said. “It certainly means that the focus is not just between the mayor and, let's say, Bill Peduto. It's the mayor waiting to see Peduto and Michael Lamb duke it out.”
Ravenstahl said he will focus his campaign on the progress Pittsburgh has made during his administration. He highlights new development Downtown and cutting the city's debt by hundreds of millions among his accomplishments.
“We believe what we've done over the last six-and-a-half years is working, and we're going to continue that,” Ravenstahl said.
His critics, including Lamb, point to problems such as the city's chronically underfunded pension system and flat revenues.
Peduto, who is in his third four-year term and is council's longest-serving member, and Lamb, the city's fiscal watchdog for the past five years, will work to make voters aware of differences between them and the mayor, according to their campaigns.
Peduto said he would seek to replicate the success of development in his East End district that includes mixed-use complex Bakery Square: “How we can take what's been happening in the East End ... and make it something can happen in every neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh,” he said.
Anne Batchelder, Lamb's campaign manager, said Lamb would go into detail on his platform during his announcement Wednesday.
“I think that the most important thing is communicating with the voters in Pittsburgh and connecting with voters and really talking about the issues that ... the people of Pittsburgh care about,” she said.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.