Filed from the Department of "To No One's Surprise," County Exec Dan Onorato is not running again. Start your engines Flaherty, Fitzgerald and Lamb. From Len Barcousky at the main site:
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato will not seek a third term in that office.
Mr. Onorato announced his decision at a press conference this afternoon. It clears the way for several Democratic candidates to seek their party's nomination for the position in the May primary.
Mr. Onorato said he planned to finish out his current term, concentrating on three issues over the 11 remaining months.
He said he will work to increase aviation traffic at Pittsburgh International Airport, study leasing up to 9,000 acres of county-owned land for natural gas drilling and continue to fight court-ordered reassessment.
"I will not be running for a third term," he told reporters today. He said he had not ruled out future runs for office but had made no decision. His background as a certified public accountant and former county controller has led some supporters to see him as a potential candidate for state auditor general in 2012.
Several Democratic candidates are likely to emerge following Mr. Onorato's statement.
A cousin and adviser to county Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty had previously announced that Mr. Flaherty would run for the job no matter what decision Mr. Onorato made. County Council President Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb have indicated they would consider running if Mr. Onorato declined to seek a third term.
The county's Republicans also say they plan to back a candidate for the post in the general election.
Mr. Onorato, who had won election to the executive's post in 2003 and 2007, appeared vulnerable after his unsuccessful run for governor in November. The winner, Republican Tom Corbett, of Shaler, took a small majority of votes in Allegheny County despite the Democrats' strong advantage in party registrations. Mr. Corbett, a veteran prosecutor and Shaler resident, is state attorney general.