Rich Fitzgerald and Chelsa Wagner are looking impressive, Luke Ravenstahl's crowd is feeling good, and at least two Dem committee members announced they're still running despite getting snubbed by their compatriots yesterday.
Exec candidate Fitzgerald and controller hopeful Wagner pulled off a two-fer this weekend, getting the endorsements of both the party committee and the Allegheny Labor Council. Both are hard-working candidates backed up by solid staff and have to be considered the front-runners for the Democratic nomination to both jobs.
Fitzgerald's rival Mark Patrick Flaherty has to be feeling down. He seemed to have a great deal of support within the committee, but still fell to Dan Onorato's ally by a measly 5 votes. And the committee nod has to feel like a bit of a magic ticket to him, as it catapulted him into county government in the first place in 2003, with his surprise win over another county council president, Jim Simms. But it's not all lost for Flaherty -- the real election is May 17 -- and he says he is not getting out of the race as KDKA-TV reported yesterday. He too has an experienced political organization behind him and a name that has served many well in local politics.
As Jim O'Toole noted today, the committee snubbed four city council incumbents who are all a thorn in the side of Mayor Ravenstahl -- Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus, Doug Shields (in his district justice bid) and Patrick Dowd -- tapping political newcomers Vince Pallus and Anthony Ceoffe in the Harris and Dowd races, and Public Works official and former councilman Jeff Koch in the Kraus race. All three of those challengers have emphasized that council needs better communication with the mayor.
An even stronger indicator that the committee votes on the city council races is tied to mayoral influence? That all three of the incumbents running for reelection above won the endorsement of the Labor Council two days earlier, as councilwoman Natalia Rudiak noted above.
Rudiak would know what the committee endorsement -- or more importantly, the lack of it -- means in a council race. She won her seat in 2009 despite getting crushed on endorsement day and so did District 6's Daniel Lavelle. (Kraus and Dowd won in 2007 without the endorsement too.)
Ravenstahl ally Ricky Burgess's reelection chances in District 9 are harder to figure: He lost the committee's nod to Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell -- who was backed by 12th ward chairwoman Jacque Fielder -- and the labor council nod to activist Lucille Prater-Holiday.
As for Harris, the North Side incumbent and 26th Ward chair says she will stay in the race despite losing the committee nod to Pallus, who was championed by Ravenstahl's friend and high-ranking Public Works official Kevin Quigley.
District 5 candidate Chris Zurawsky -- a committee member from the 14th ward; more on him later today -- said he will continue running too. He lost to the only council candidate on the ballot (trivia ahead) to win both the committee and labor endorsements this weekend -- Corey O'Connor.
Hopefully your head is dutifully spinning now -- welcome to Pittsburgh politics. The picture may get ever so slightly clearer tomorrow, when all those running for office have to file nominating petitions to get onto the May 17 ballot.