I'd seen something at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents that I wanted ask him about. I wanted to know whether at he felt his withdrawn mayoral candidacy had anything to do with Tuesday's election results. Sue obviously asked him the same thing. To Sue he answered:
Thanks, Sue - but it wasn't me - it was a few hundred activist Democrats (the lifeblood of our party) that never stopped campaigning after my announcement. They went to work for Bruce, Patrick, Heather and some to Brenda. Interesting to watch my friend Michael Nutter's victory in Philadelphia against the machine and the coming of age of the independent, progressive, reform democrats in Pittsburgh. Interesting times, indeed.Leave it to Sue to beat me to the great question (damn foiled again!).
While it may be inticing to imagine some sort of plan at work here, Peduto pointed out that all the credit for the results should go to three places:
- the candidates themselves
- their respective staffs
- the local network of political progressives
Expanding on the topic of the election, he said that as expected there was a low voter turnout, but instead of just the usual folks turning up at the voting booths, "the network" kicked in and produced a whole new voting bloc and with it a new dramatically changed political landscape.
I asked him whether the shift may have been caused by the general anti-incumbent, "throw all the bums out" mood of Pennsylvania's electorate. But Peduto would have none of that. He emphasized the network of progressive communities - now active players in the game. These folks were organized, he said, via moveon.org, the Sierra Club, Democracy for Pittsburgh and so on. Once the stage was set, they went to work and the results showed on Tuesday.
I asked how this might effect City Council once the change officially arrives next year. He said the election was "a clarion call" to local elected officials. Incumbency is not as safe a place to be as it once was (or was once thought to be). Nor is ignoring the electorate.
The City Council
In today's P-G, he's quoted as saying that the council is no longer "8-1 for Luke." So I asked, what does he think the general political topography of the council will be?
He said that Jim Motznick, Tonya Payne and Darlene Harris are the Luke "loyalists." They're with Luke no matter what. With the two new arrivals (Kraus and Patrick Dowd) there'll be three independent votes. He pointed out that while the three may not agree on all issues, he expects each to vote according to what's good for the city, however each defines it, rather than what's good for a political career. In between are Dan Deasy and Doug Shields.
Peduto said he wasn't sure where Reverend Burgess fits in, but in any event, while he's assuming a three by three set up, he's hoping one or more of the three will join the progressive corner.
Look, another Triangle in Pittsburgh! Luke's Loyalists in one corner, the Progressives in another and...uh...maybe the other three in the third.
And with the new make up of the council, Peduto's looking to address (and pass) new legislation on Campaign Finance Reform, TIF reform and neighborhood economic development. More community empowerment projects beyond the casinos and arena, with greater attention paid to workforce development.
Some Curious Fallout
Looks like Len Bodack's blaming Peduto for his loss (yea, I can't understand it either). Peduto explained that it was Bodack's supporters who worked among the hardest against Peduto's mayoral candidacy. So once he withdrew and all those activists went to work elsewhere, it's probably just as worthwhile to say, as Peduto did, that "Lenny's supporters did it to him."
Although he said he had nothing to do with the election results, I caught a tone in his voice, a sparkle about the newly reordered political realities in town.
Perhaps I was right: Luke is in for some bad sledding.