Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 17, 2007

Bill Peduto Speaks About The Election Results

I was lucky enough to get a few minutes of Bill Peduto's time this afternoon (it was early and he said he was on his way to have lunch with Bruce Kraus. Geez, what a namedropper).

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 I wanted to know whether at he felt his withdrawn mayoral candidacy had anything to do with Tuesday's election results.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
He pointed out (a number of times, by the way) that he had nothing to do with the rather nice events of earlier this week. He really wanted to emphasize the newly networked local activists.

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, 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.


Anonymous said...

Dan Deasy is a Luke Loyalist.

Anonymous said...

Ah, David, too much credit you give me. While his answer fits your question, I simply emailed him to say thanks.

"Thank you for helping to elect Bruce Kraus and Patrick Dowd. To have an openly gay elected official is very
significant for the entire LGBTQ community. But don't worry, you will stil be the cool one. :-)"

Where you think "great question" I'm just thinking "thank you." I guess that's why you are a junkie and I'm just a correspondent ...

Richmond K. Turner said...

About the only inarguable effect of Peduto's pull-out on Tuesday's results was the effect it had on turnout. To my mind, the ordinary everyday "give the kid a chance" yinzers didn't seem to show up at the voting booth. I'm not talking about the red-blood, ACDC drones. Instead, I'm talking about your basic I-don't-pay-much-attention types who didn't really examine the isses but who generally thought it was cool to "give the kid a chance".

Since the kid was a rock-solid certainty, they didn't have much of a reason to show up. Many of them couldn't have found the name of their city councilmember if you sat them down in front of the city website, because they couldn't even tell you which ward or district they lived in. So city council races weren't enough to motivate them. And with no mayoral race, they just said "why bother".

Most of these non-rabid "give the kid a chance types" would have voted for the endorsed council candidate if they had been given a copy of the endorsement slate on the way into (or even once they got into) the polling place. But since they didn't show up, those were lost votes for Bodack and Koch.

Other than the turnout thing, the Peduto effect is -- to my mind anyway -- rather questionable. Yes, his active supporters and staff went off to help other campaigns, but those campaigns were already going when these new hands arrived on deck. Helpful to be sure, but I can't quite see this effect to be decisive.

So I think its good that Peduto is evading any talk which gives him "credit" for what happened this week.

And I'm basically thrilled about Micahel Nutter in Philly (my soon-to-be-home-but-never-my-hometown). Especially since his connections to my employer will provide even more job security for data geeks like me.

Tim Murray said...

My money is on Rev. Burgess to be the swing vote, the guy who will lead city council. Imagine, a pastor on city council who is concerned about the city's bloated budget as well as the needs of his district -- if they were all like him, what the hell would I write about?

Anonymous said...

I think individual elections have more to due with their districts/concerns of residents. Ravenstahl's redevelopment plan certainly irritated some citizens.

Also, the general ethical cloudover city government--and especially council--didn't help the incumbents.

I think what the election did was take the cogs out of the machine. Bodack was a key part of it, and now that he's no longer on council, the wheels could fall off the train...time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Is Rev. Burgess beholden to Ferlo in any way? Ferlo was in the background of all of the media coverage. If so, Burgess will be a Luke loyalist.

Tim Murray said...

Our sources tell us Rev. Burgess is hard to figure out -- he's too honest and therefore likely ill-suited for politics.

Anonymous said...

A preacher, a doctor, and an interior designer walk into a bar.

Shawn Carter said...

Your honor, I think both premises are right, but I think that makes him well-suited for this.

Anonymous said...

How does Jim"MadDog"Motnik's support of Bruce Kraus fit into this equation?

Anonymous said...

peduto is a crybaby, you go from one extreme to another,3 council members for luke, so what, your like the taliban just go against it no matter what, no platform. These new council people, are they on your team already.your just as screwed up as them. Wait till dowd gets there, and thinks there are 8 MARK BRENTLY'S sitting next to him.....

Anonymous said...

what has 18 legs and 9 assholes and an I.Q. of 66 yup yor right our CITY council