On Saturday, 52% of African-Americans convening in five neighborhoods voted to endorse State Rep. Jake Wheatley for Mayor of Pittsburgh.
A respectable 33% voted for City Councilman Bill Peduto.
Only 12% of black Pittsburghers endorsed former Harrisburg financial watchdog Jack Wagner — which ought to be disqualifying in a city Democratic primary.
The 12% figure from over the weekend conjures Wagner’s last run for Pittsburgh mayor. In that contest, despite his alleged ability to forge great relationships and demonstrate awesome leadership, Wagner somehow got shellacked 72-28% in a two-man race. How could Pittsburghers have failed to notice Wagner’s relationships and leadership?
According to coverage, even back in 1993, Wagner failed to be seen as “the candidate for change”. He lost by greater than a 2-1 margin to an opponent “derided as a reformer without a power base,” whose lame proposals included spooling out a citywide riverfront trail system, upgrading City Hall technology, and partnering with universities to invest in environmental science and industry.
Jack Wagner today is emphasizing the feats of 45 years ago while eliding over whatever may be his “mission”. We are left to assume that mission is to ease the sting of a 44-point loss to Tom Murphy twenty years ago, when Pittsburghers knew him better.
Since then he rose to inhabit the important but inscrutable office of state Auditor General. There are clear indications that comically antiquated and immobile technologies were left unmolested and unquestioned by Wagner, and probably contributed to inefficiencies and a backlog.
The Wagner team responded indignantly that his opponent is being petty and unfortunate — and, of course, the media more or less bought it without digging deeper.
After all, the Ravenstahl administration (now disgraced and on the lam) and its allies have been telling us Peduto is whiny and petty for years. We’re accustomed to hearing it. And I mean, just look at him. Peduto’s never worked in Harrisburg. Peduto’s never been to Vietnam. Peduto’s not supported by the entirety of the Ravenstahl administration. Peduto started standing up to them six years too early, and in this town being ahead of your time is no virtue.
Jack Wagner, meanwhile, operates on a totally different playing field. When the AG’s office technology and backlog issue broke, the chief political scribe in the newspaper of record took a break from transcribing a Wagner advertisement (usually, you have to pay to air those) to mention curtly and in the third person that Peduto “seized on” the revelation… but only as a way to go back quoting Wagner’s flack at 50-words strong, at the end of the article, explaining what a cad Peduto is for daring to mention his opponent’s record in office.
When Wagner first embarked on his mission, Pittsburgh had an easy time shunting him into the “discard” bin. After a long absence from City issues and an expensive political makeover, Wagner is attempting to campaign from a pedestal so high that Pittsburgh can’t even make out his features. With thirty days remaining until election day — and a stodgy media easily impressed by sonorously-intoned fluff and the support of a shamed regime — it falls to the rest of us to knock Wagner off his fabricated block.