What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 9, 2009

Doug Shields Explains

As Maria posted earlier today, City Council President Doug Shields today decided not to run for mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. In a statement released today, he said:
With the encouragement and support of many people, I have seriously considered running for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. At this time, the right choice for me, for this Council, and for the people of Pittsburgh is to continue to serve as Council President.
When asked earlier this evening for some more details, Shields said that the "pieces just weren't in place" for a run by him against a well-funded incumbent.

He added that "the standing of [City] council is very important to me" and if he were to run it would make his time at Council "very difficult." Especially at this time when there's "a lot on Council's plate."

This is not to say, though, that he'd not be more seriously inclined if he weren't Council President and so when I asked him whether this part of his statement:
What the citizens in Pittsburgh most need is a productive common agenda, not a divisive political campaign.
Was intended as a message to anyone else challenging (or thinking of challenging) Mayor Ravenstahl in the next election and he said no. It was just intended as a summary of what he thinks about his own campaign. His challenge coming as it would from the City Council President would be divisive and would get in the way of the City Council's important work. "Leadership doesn't always lie in the mayor's office," he said.

When asked if he thought that the Mayor was politically vulnerable, he said began his answer with a caveat; we live in uncertain times and no one should attempt to predict six months down the road in any political campaign. No one knows for sure what will happen.

On the other hand, financially the city is better off than we were 4 years ago. The national press is playing up Pittsburgh in its coverage - he said, for example, that the NYTimes suggested that a good place to ride out the recession is Pittsburgh. Rampant crime in a lot of places around the city is down and the city has more "recession proof" businesses (i.e. "Eds" and "Meds") than other places.

My guess is that Shields' point is, comparatively speaking, there's a lot of good news about Pittsburgh. If he were a part of Ravenstahl's campaign, he'd be "bally ho-ing it all day long." It all translates into a more comfortable place for an incumbent to run for elected office. And if that incumbent is well funded, so much the better.

"The level of satisfaction doesn't demand change," he said.

1 comment:

thebagofhealthandpolitics said...

The reality is that the Mayor is not politically vulnerable at this time. We may wish he was.

Doug Shield would've been a strong candidate, and would've mounted a strong challenge. He probably would've gotten his fair share of votes, but I think he correctly concluded they would've been less than the Mayor's.