Those who do not learn from history lead really successful, happy lives.
Or something like that. Right?
Next year’s race for mayor of Pittsburgh started sizzling in recent days as Councilman Bill Peduto blanketed voters with campaign mailings, Controller Michael Lamb announced his candidacy and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl secured support from two major labor unions.
Peduto said he mailed 25,000 fliers to registered Democrats in the city, plus email, Twitter and Facebook postings that reached another 25,000 people, all of which sought monetary and volunteer support for his campaign.
Lamb, in response, said on Monday he will run in the May primary, a move analysts said might split the anti-incumbent vote.
“It will weaken Peduto’s chances and strengthen Ravenstahl’s,” said Moe Coleman, director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics. (Trib, Bob Bauder)
Are people really expected to give money to projects like this?
“The town has yet to oust a mayor at the ballot box in its entire electoral history… The incumbent has loads of money, power of course, enthusiastic support from certain unions and the business community… Downtown is growing, employment is high… And there’s another white male challenger just over the river carrying the exact same political reform banner that I am, only marching in the opposite direction. But why don’t you write me a big fat check anyway! It will be fun: opening a campaign office, hiring bright young people and cocky attorneys, playing with databases and maps. It will be like fantasy camp!”
Seriously, the fact that these gentlemen aren’t working this out — scratch that, the fact that others in the community aren’t forcing these gentlemen work it out –makes me think maybe Pittsburgh doesn’t merit some kind of highbrow political renaissance. The old ways are the right ways. Are you a party power broker? Have yourself a job. Are you voting against my favorite projects? Shame about those streets. Is your community desperately starved for resources? Step one is let’s be friends.
We all saw Lincoln. It might have been nice to have a debate whether there’s anything wrong with politics as it’s always been, or whether it’s appropriate to start thinking of such things in tandem with telegraphs and horse-drawn carriages. In fact, it would have been just as nice to debate whether those perpetrating at “reform” are really any different, or simply desire the same plush, old-school power to use for themselves.
But with three? I barely had any faith in the media — in you people — to cover an election decently with two. With three, by the time you remind readers (sorry — lol — watchers) of everyone’s name and home neighborhood and describe the ambiance “bickering and squabbling,” there won’t be any column-inches left to nurture a narrative assuming you notice one.
For what it’s worth, however…
It being the end of November, I’m still not seeing how Michael Lamb’s candidacy adds up. Bill Peduto has a team and infrastructure well-seasoned and assembled that has scored clear electoral victories at the State Rep and City Council levels against establishment forces. He now adds to that apparently the support of the County Executive. He has a recognizable brand, he has engendered loyalty in constituencies by having taken and maintained tough positions on-air and at the Council table as a necessity. And I’m highly suspicious he starts out with more money in the bank already and more people working the assembly line. I just don’t see how Lamb is supposed to counter that by being a slightly more moderate figure, more things to more people possibly, a straight-shooter, practical, quick with a joke and to light up your smoke, politically cagey but institutionally aloof. He came in third in 2005 and didn’t get a lot of electoral exercise winning reelection as Controller unopposed in 2011.
In a two-way race conducted in a test tube? Shucks, Lamb might be the better political animal for taking down Ravenstahl — more gravitas, less threatening to some, less ornamented with Burton Morris shtick. But in the real world, with the pieces already on the table and moving? Bill Peduto is the challenger. He is the challenge, itself — the way into the citadel is an outsider’s gambit, there’s no reason to believe the conventional gatekeepers can be persuaded to mutiny. I let myself wonder aloud the other day whether Ravenstahl forces were hoping Lamb would enter the race. All I can say is, if Michael has received any big checks he’s not quite sure where they came from and why, he may want to do some research.
Or not. Whatever. I could be wrong. The next couple months could prove exciting and productive. Because as they say: the definition of cleverness is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.