What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 17, 2007

Another Election Post-Mortem

I remember hearing this joke when I was in grad school: Vermont is a state that has ten months of winter and two months of bad sledding.

Not sure why that joke stuck in my head this morning as I was reading Rich Lord, but for some reason "Luke's in for some bad sledding." kept bouncing back and forth inside my rapidly balding cranium. He begins:

Armed with 96 percent of the Democratic primary vote, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl comes to work today fortified by that strong showing at the polls.

But stripped of three council allies and facing an ambitious new controller, the mayor faces more uncertainty than at any time since his Sept. 1 ascent to office.

We all know the details by now. The P-G editorial board summed it up this way:
The winds of change blew through Pittsburgh City Council on election night and, with any luck, will help clear the air in city government. Three incumbents -- one under indictment and the other two backed by the party leadership -- were denied the Democratic nomination and will leave office at the end of the year.
And Lord quotes Peduto using that "Perfect storm" phrase again. ("Winds of change" "perfect storm" "bad sledding" - it's certainly raining weather metaphors today, isn't it?)

Anyway, Peduto goes on to describe the bad sledding facing Mayor Luke:
Mr. Peduto argued that the results represent "the transformation of Democratic politics" by a new infrastructure of progressive groups, campaign workers and candidates. Two of the ousted incumbents were endorsed by the Democratic Committee and the Allegheny County Labor Council, suggesting traditional power bases can't guarantee victory.
And Luke is no where but sitting on the traditional power base. Lord continues:
That's because a council that -- with the exception of Mr. Peduto -- has been mayor-friendly will get three independent voices. Mr. Kraus, particularly, has no debt to Mr. Ravenstahl, since mayoral pal and Redd Up Campaign Manager Kevin Quigley was campaigning for Mr. Koch on Tuesday.
On the other side of the Allegheny River, Jeremy Boren and Mike Wereschagin have a somewhat harsher, less diplomatically-put view:

Voters tossed a wrench into the city's Democratic machine Tuesday, rejecting three City Council incumbents, including two endorsed by the party committee.

"Not only did you change a third of council, but you had challengers win in three of the four races," said Moe Coleman, director emeritus of University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics and aide to then Pittsburgh Mayor Joseph Barr in the 1960s.

"I don't ever remember this happening before."

Democratic machine? What Democratic machine? Boren and Wereschagin get a choice nugget:

Bodack and Koch were the Democratic Party's endorsed candidates. Their loss shows the party apparatus needs to change its endorsement process or risk losing relevance, said Allegheny County Councilwoman Brenda Frazier. The Stanton Heights Democrat has won three elections without the party's backing.

"The old way of doing things certainly isn't working," said Frazier, 66, whose district stretches from the South Side to the North Side.

Frazier is quoted somewhat later:
As more candidates win without the party's backing, Frazier said, others will begin asking, "What good is it?"
If nothing else (and we know there was much more), that's possibly the most important long-term victory of the 15th. The old party aparatus suffered a shock.

It's no longer business as usual.

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting...


Anonymous said...

I don't think you can describe Carlilse as a mayoral ally...

Maria said...

I feel compelled to point out that Ravenstahl did not receive "96 percent of the Democratic primary vote" as Rich Lord stated.

As I previously posted here:

'A full 14% of the voters chose not to "I Like Luke." In addition to the 4% who chose to write in someone, another 9% chose to leave their ballot blank for Mayor (38,665 voted citywide for Controller, but only 35,705 voted citywide for Mayor).' [emphasis added]

I did email Mr. Lord about this and he agreed that "96 percent of the Democratic mayoral primary vote" would have been more accurate.

A small bone to pick to be sure about an otherwise great article.

And, no doubt, Luke is wildly popular among voters.

No accounting for taste . . .

John Riegert said...

I think it is better to at least write in someone even if it is "mr x" rather than to not vote for a race because it is just seen as an undervote otherwise which just shows apathy rather than an actual vote against the candidates.

Maria said...


I agree. It makes much more of a statement to do what you say.

I think "know of the above" does nicely.

As those of you who read this blog regularly may have guessed, I typed in "William Peduto."

Maria said...


Nice letter to the editor in the P-G yesterday (if that was yours).

I agree with it wholeheartedly!

Maria said...

Ack! of course I meant:

"None of the above"

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, we'll soon see the end of "smoky backroom" party endorsements, a level playing field for candidates, and a renewed reliance on primary voters to actually select nominees. It hasn't been that long that binding primaries were held at all in PA, so we're making progress. More progress will depend on fair-minded, reasonable people running for the committee seats. What are you waiting for?

Kevin in Montco

Maria said...

Hey, don't blame me. I ran...and lost.

OK, blame me. LOL

Gloria said...

Hey Kevin in Montco, I ran & lost too, as did John, in Lawrenceville, (our Pittsburgh neighborhood), which was formerly known as Bodack Country...

Maria, I didn't realize "know of the above" was a typo, I thought it was a clever statement, noting that, since you KNOW of the above (the candidate(s)listed on the ballot), you are not voting for them...

Maria said...



I wish I was that clever.

Matt H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt H said...

What did Gloria and Maria run for?

Maria said...

Matt H,

Last year Progress Pittsburgh tried to get some new blood on the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. They encouraged and had classes for people to run. Gloria and I both ran and lost. However, I believe that they were able to get about 50 new people on the Committee.