The Allegheny County Labor Council will remain neutral in the Pittsburgh mayor's race, although city Councilman Bill Peduto came just short of winning the group's support.
. Four Democrats sought the labor endorsement Friday, but none of the mayoral hopefuls was able to muster the two-thirds majority needed to win the union umbrella group's support.
In addition to Peduto, city Council President Darlene Harris, city Controller Michael Lamb, and former Auditor General Jack Wagner sought the group's backing. According to a source familiar with the deliberations, Mr. Peduto led in all four rounds of voting. In the first round, he was followed by Mr. Wagner, Mr. Lamb, and Ms. Harris, who was dropped from the competition after finishing last. In a second ballot, Mr. Lamb moved ahead of Mr. Wagner, forcing the former auditor general out. Mr. Peduto ousted Mr. Lamb in the next round, but then fell just short of the two-thirds threshhold needed. He had 24 votes among the union leaders; he needed 26.
After Mayor Luke Ravenstahl decided not to run for re-election, Mr. Wagner returned from a vacation in Israel to mount a last minute bid for the Democratic nomination, His appearance before the labor council amounted to the first formal appearance of his late-breaking campaign and it demonstrated that despite his prominent name in state politics, he has significant ground to make up in his 11th hour campaign.
Mr. Peduto and Mr. Lamb had received endorsements from individual unions who are members of the labor council and they and their rivals will continue to court other labor groups.
Several other Democrats who are considering city hall bids did not seek the ACLC support. Among them are state Sens. Jim Ferlo, and Wayne Fontana; county councilman Bill Robinson and city councilman Ricky Burgess.
In other races, according to ACLC president Jack Shea, city council incumbents Natalia Rudiak and R. Daniel Lavelle did meet the endorsement threshold. Ms. Rudiak is being challenged by sports analyst John Lee, while Mr. Lavelle wlll face former Councilwoman Tonya Payne, and former mayoral candidate Dok Harris in the May 21 primary. In the 8th District, the seat now held by Mr. Peduto, Jeanne Clark won the labor backing over Dan Gilman and Sam Hens-Greco.
For the open, 3rd District seat on county council, the ACLC voted to back Mary Gibson, who is facing Shawn Flaherty for the Democratic nomination. From a big field of lawyers vying for the four open seats on Common Pleas Court, the union leaders chose Paul Cozza, Mark Tranquilli, Jennifer Statler, and P.J. Murray.