What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 27, 2007

Another Illuminating Interview

Last Thursday, Bill Peduto appeared on Fred Honsberger's KDKA Radio show. I found the Councilman's remarks on why he left the race to be very illuminating and I promised in the comments section of this post over at The People's Republic of Pittsburgh to post a rough transcript of the most relevant parts here at 2pj. Many of the same points were made by Peduto in David's interview with him which can be found here.

You can still listen to the KDKA interview here.
"Peduto Refuses to Play Dirty Politics" KDKA Radio, 2/22/07

FH: I remember having you on the show and asking you if McIntire was doing you any favors and you said, 'No.'

BP: People were saying that I was behind the NY thing.

Everything that I did just by being in this race raised my negatives. Just by being in this race, I raised my negatives.

If I were to go out and hold a press conference and say I found a plan to hire 100 more cops to be out in the neighborhoods to make them safer, people wouldn't like the plan just because it was me.

And, I've never had negatives. My negatives testing for internal polling were never higher than 12 -- they are triple that now and it's not because of anything that I've done, it's because I'm running against Luke.

His popularity is through the roof and it''s all based on image.

There's no issues that you can go back to and point to and say, "OK, so you like him over Peduto because of them other than 'give him a chance.'"

FH: Not to rub salt in the wound, but the last line of the Post-Gazette editorial says, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" and now that you're out questions are being raised over NY. Now that he has no opponent, he can say I'm not going to discuss that anymore.

BP: Yeah, but I'm not a pawn and that's what I think that the Post-Gazette is trying to say. Saying that Peduto has to go out there and be the sacrificial lamb for us. And you know what? The public wants Luke which they do and -- they got him -- and for me to go out there and destroy my own political career in order to make this a competitive fight by trying to destroy Luke; how is that beneficial to trying to reform Pittsburgh? I don't get that.

And, the Post-Gazette's written two articles that are substance on the issues and close to 50 to 100 other things that the Ravenstahl PR machine has put out. They've been able to...they had their opportunity to bring up the issues.

I heard there's a second editorial that said, "No more free pass." Well, guys, guess what? Too late. You got the guy that you helped to create and to blame it on me at this point is not only unfair, it's just plain wrong.

FH: A run as an independent -- too soon? Maybe wait 2009 to have something to run against...and it doesn't have to be about image hopefully.

BP: Exactly and maybe the Post-Gazette will ask some second questions. You've got a free college program but how are you gonna pay for it? To give 20 neighborhoods no taxes for property is that going to make the homeowners in this city whole or how are we going to be on hook pay for it?

You can't just put out press releases and expect them to be policy papers and unfortunately that's what the media has done. They've given Luke a free pass and no wonder. And, I'm not blaming the public. The public believes that good or bad or whatever in the mainstream media and that's what...where this campaign is now.

FH: This "gotcha journalism" which is pervasive nationally as well as locally. And, they really love doing it. Look we got it, look what we've done now. It really lacks substance and it's really shock value but it backfired this time, didn't it?

BP: And you know what? Shame on the Post-Gazette for choosing the charged words that they did with me because when this city's back was against the wall and the Post-Gazette was every single time, Luke took the other way, begging City Council to do the right thing. Every time, every single time, I did. And, almost every single time Luke took the other way. And, they know that, and the editorial board knows that, and maybe they're hurt and maybe they thought there's really an opportunity to get the issues presented that are important.

But I'll tell you what Fred, there's no traction at all with those issues. Those are the issues that I care about. The issues to reform this city and a May 15th primary not only would have destroyed me, but may have destroyed the reform movement in this city and I wasn't going to take that chance to take both of us down with that.

FH: Is Luke Ravenstahl the Sanjaya of the mayoral primary race?

BP: Uh...

FH: If you know Sanjaya from "American Idol" -- looks good but...

BP: I've never watched the show.


FH: Is this the fight against the machine? Is the machine really running the whole thing here?

BP: Yes, but it's not the David L. Lawrence machine. It's not the machine of the 1950s, or the Democratic Committee. The folks on the Committee are handed the crumbs. It's the folks that do the bond issue work without any competitive bidding or the contracts that go out for professional services -- the highway contracts and everything else. And, everyone knows it and they finance the campaigns and then they hold this region back. And, it's the developer that look for zoning variances over the counter and everything else.

This city needs to be completely clean. It needs to be started over and that's not what the public wants right now. The public wants is to "give this guy a chance."

FH: I hear what you're saying. You know, I admire you and I admire any politician that says going negative is not the way to win races.

BP: You know going negative can be not only a way to win a race, but to point out important differences. And, you'll see that in congressional races about Medicare and social security and...but, when it's about a person and issues like handcuffs, and airline flights, and whatever, it destroys the person who's putting it out there too.

FH: Councilman, I hope to hear form you. I know you're not going away.

BP: I'm not going away. November's still on the table. Obviously next year's still on the table...or 2009. And, building out a reform movement and bringing others on board is still ongoing. My staff is still on I'm in my campaign headquarters right now.

FH: Councilman, thank you. Councilman Bill Peduto.


Mason said...

I think Bill is right in alot of what he said to Hamburger, but he needs to regain some perspective and not let the press get to him so much.

Anonymous said...

Peduto is living in a dream world. All of this holier-than-thou piffle about "not going negative" is too wonkish for words. He will NEVER win a campaign unless he is willing to mix it up a little.

Now, all of this may be a smoke screen. Perhaps he is just waiting until Luke self-destructs sometime in the future....but that becomes less likely as Ravenstahl solidifies his power.

And while I know the conventional wisdom is that Bill can now regroup and come back to "fight another day," I think he's done politically. I for one am not likely to jump on board with someone who doesn't have the brass to upbraid the annointed Boy Mayor...

Piltdown Man

EdHeath said...

So, we know Bill has run a negative race, although one frankly I don’t remember (the Cohen Congressional race). So his stand that he doesn’t want to do that is more calculated than heartfelt, I think. He knows the Mayor is still very popular, seen by some as the anointed successor. And we know that his campaign staff is still in his office, although there are mixed messages about whether they are still raising money or not. And right now, while the spotlight is on him, Peduto is taking shots at the media and particularly the PG, for giving the Mayor a pass on critical coverage.

Maybe Peduto is hoping that there will be a media backlash, that the critical coverage of the Mayor will make him unfit for office. Maybe, but the media will feed the public only as much negative coverage of Luke as it wants (the papers a bit more, the TV a bit less). It remains to be seen if a dynamic will be created, of the public looking for more answers about Luke’s behavior. Its not clear what kind of dynamic Bill would need to abandon the party in mid April, but its safe to say it would have to be a major scandal in the Ravenstahl administration.

From what I can see, Peduto has made his own series of mis-steps that left a bad taste in the collective mouths of *some* people. Apparently his previous ’05 run for Mayor broke some ill-defined agreement, and the Cohen Congressional race was seen as mishandled by some people who blog now.

Well, politics is not an exact science, and *some* people will resent Peduto for pulling out this time, whether he steps back in this fall or not. Another truism in politicis is that there are plenty of second and third acts, particularly seemingly in Pittsburgh politics. Barring a contested election in the fall, I think the next run for Mayor (in ’09) may well look like the previous run, lots of candidates, several progressive, and lots of split votes. If Bill is counting on some goodwill after what happened this year, I think he may be disappointed again.

Maria said...

Just one thing, Ed:

Some people (aside from Luke) do learn from past mistakes. Peduto has long said that he learned from the Cohen race and that he would never run a negative race again. He said that long before this race or even the 2005 race and he's kept that promise.

Anonymous said...

Not running "a negative race" is a fine and noble concept...but it ignores the realities of the political "marketplace." It also ignores the fact that "negative" can be defined and implemented in different ways.

Consumers (studies have shown...) don't so much mind campaigns that point out legit issues with the competition....as long as they simply aren't ad hominem attacks, but actually relate to specific events. You know, like the stuff that Luke should be answering for.....

If Peduto is saying that he'll never print a direct mail piece or produce a TV ad that points out his competitors weaknesses, obfuscations or mistakes, then I say he might as well forget about running for anything....ever.

Piltdown Man

Maria said...

Piltdown Man,

I believe that Peduto says in the interview that he understands the differences in 'negative campaigning' that you speak of and has not been shy in pointing out differences in his record and Luke's.

The problem was because no one (including the MSM) seemed to give a damn about talking about the issues, only the image and 'give him a chance' any negative campaign would have needed to rest more on character issues which is a hard road to navigate without veering into slime even if that's not the direction that you intended to to go.

Anonymous said...

Maria -

Your point is well taken.

However, aren't "character issues" ultimately the most important? There is no reason that negative (or to use the pol consultants term) "comparitive" ads must, by there nature, devolve into slime.

A better guess is that, underfunded as he was, Peduto simply realized he didn't have the funds to run a successful campaign which would have, by its very nature, had to have included a certain percentage of "negatives."

Peduto also knows that Luke will only get one shot at the "give the kid a chance" thing. In 2009 he'll have a record to run against. Of course, if he's still afraid to strenously point out Luke's negatives...how exactly will that work?


EdHeath said...

Yeah Maria, the points you made are well taken. Some things become a bit clearer to me (and I hope people will remember I have only really recently begun to pay close attention to Burgh politics).

I’m sure Peduto is a political realist. I take your statement about what Peduto learned from the Cohen campaign on face value, about not wanting to run a negative campaign again. But being a realist Peduto might well not mind running a negative campaign (as you described characterized as showing the differences between candidates), but as Peduto has stressed several times, he was showing big negative ratings with several voters simply because he was running against Ravenstahl. Still, on the Sunday morning thing Peduto mentioned a couple of times wanting to run on leadership and experience, which I take as code for character.

And let’s be clear about something else, what is the one way you can safely indicate that your opponent has negative qualities without it reflecting on you? If you are dropping out because you don’t want to have to run a negative campaign. Now if Luke does turn out to be a corrupt dud, Peduto can say “See … See … this is what I was talking about”

So being on record “knowing the truth but unable to say anything” could still work for Bill.

Kelly H said...

I think I recall that when Peduto and Luke began the campaign they both said they would like to show respect to each other while campaigning and while I don't think Peduto is disrespecting our mayor....I do think it's unfair of him to publicize to the media that everything he said was taken as a negative and it is especially unfair for him to say that Luke's press releases are his free passes. For him to make these comments to the media is

A. Giving the media exactly what it wants...something provactive and "juicier" to talk about


B. Showing his character...if his skin isn't tough enough to take the media and publics words NOT SO SERIOUSLY....I wouldnt want a man who cannot deal with that to be running my city

That in mind...why is this interview "illuminating"...because Peduto is just tryin to stir up some trouble with a little unneccessary trash talk