I remember the good times baby, now… and the bad times too. 


This new mayor has risen in a manner unlike any previous mayor of Pittsburghtown. The odyssey continues – grab a brush.


  1. MH

    By my count, which maybe is missing a bunch because of absentees or something, it looks like slightly fewer voters were cast than in 2009. I wasn't expecting Peduto to win so big without some boost to the turnout.

  2. MH

    Seriously though, 52%? Who's doing the fracking opinion polling around here and do they need help with the math?

  3. BrianTH

    I'm not too surprised after seeing the polling indicating that Peduto had pulled even (or better) with non-young voters. In the end, it seems clear to me that Ravenstahl fatigue decimated what otherwise should have been Wagner's base. And in fact the turnout numbers suggest to me that some of the people who turned on Wagner ended up not voting at all.

    Anyway, definitely an impressive win for a non-incumbent facing a serious, well-funded competitor.

  4. MH

    I guess the polls were too bad. Once you included the undecided voters by which way they leaned, the poll lead was 7% for Peduto. A 12% lead is just at the edge of the margin of error.

  5. BrianTH

    Keep in mind the polls still allowed undecideds. If you portioned out the undecideds just based on the decided percentages, the Trib poll was maybe a couple points off, which is well within the margin of error. And in fact that could be attributed to a late bandwagon effect, so for all we know the Trib poll was dead on when it was taken.

  6. BrianTH

    Sorry, you beat me to it (the point about the undecideds).

    All things considered, I think this will count as a reasonably good polling performance (by both polls, in fact, considering the timing and possible shifts in sentiment at the end).

  7. MH

    Maybe they haven't counted the absentee ballots yet. If Wagner only needs to close the gap by 1,600 votes (roughly) to get the lead down to single digits.

  8. MH

    I wonder if Lamb wouldn't have done better without Wagner in the race, even if he didn't get any of Ravenstahl's money, than Wagner did. People spent an great deal of money to lose by 12%.

  9. Anonymous

    Don't think so — he was not looking so good in role as controller with the police stuff that happened

  10. Anonymous

    If Wagner hadn't jumped in, Lamb in all likelihood would have at least gotten the FF and the IBEW and the money would have followed. I believe he would have run an entirely different campaign than Wagner's (which had to be one of the worst campaigns I've ever seen and made Peduto's campaign look great by comparison). Wagner never presented a vision nor did he give people a reason to vote FOR him. I'm sure the Peduto campaign would have tried to spin the police stuff as Lamb's fault, but not sure they could've made that stick. Let's just say Labor screwed themselves big time by supporting Wagner. Time for new leadership there, too.

  11. MH

    That's pretty much what I was thinking, except that I'd note that not all labor went with Wagner. At the very least, I don't see how the police scandal could have hurt Lamb worse than looking like a Ravenstahl stand-in hurt Wagner. And, given that he had time to prepare, I'd assume the campaign Lamb would have run would have been more coherent and much more competent.

  12. Anonymous

    Wagner completely misunderstood the new city demographic. Starting out with his Vietnam war service would have been great if he was running for Congress in 1980. Being out of Pgh for 20 years made his name less than familiar to the newly arrived and minted young mobile pittsburghers. On his behalf, jack Wagner is a decent man, an able administrator, and a committed Democrat. The attack ads on him were brutal! I expected better from Peduto. With that said, hopefully Bill will embark on fence mending.

  13. MH

    I had a very positive opinion of Wagner before this campaign. I don't think the attack ads were too brutal, but I may have missed some of them. They didn't run very often compared to those attacking Peduto and I mostly want Netflix.

    The pay raise issue was worth attacking over and a fair attack as far as I'm concerned. I'm still irked at that.

  14. Anonymous

    I was hopeful that Peduto would try to mend fences as stated above; but, became less hopeful when his campaign, in a spirit of being a bad winner, played the song “Hit the Road Jack”

    Bad taste — hope that he and his campaign/future staff grow out of those juvenile antics.

    It is these childish things that give those that drink the Peduto kool aid pause about him and his ability to mend fences and get along with others.

  15. Anonymous

    Thinking out loud, under the law, might Jack be eligible to run as an independent for city council in November?

  16. MH

    Why would somebody with a job as state auditor want to run for city council? To carry through the personal grudges of people who read the internets?

  17. Anonymous

    I truly am surprised that voter participation was LOWER than 2009. Didn't see that pathetic note coming…although at least we beat Philly at 9%. I agree with above comment that the Ravenstahl crowd really didn't show up for Wagner at the polls. Luke really crapped the bed and made a mess on everyone near him.

  18. Dude

    If Wagner hadn't gotten in, Lamb might have had to contend with Ferlo, Harris, et al, who would have stayed in the race making it a 1989 style free-for-all. Ferlo would have attracted the Luke-inner circle/money/vender support, Wheatley might have had a better argument to black voters that he could actually win. Peduto wouldn't have gotten as many east end liberal votes, or south hills anti-Wagner votes, but he still would have a sizeable base. A multi-candidate field would have still benefited Peduto, who had a more intensely loyal base.

  19. Anonymous

    Check your history. Lamb has always done well in 14, 15, and 31. Until he dropped out, Lamb also was assured of his name appearing on the Democratic Committee slate card. Lamb is generally well liked by the committee people and they would have worked for him.

  20. Bram Reichbaum

    I can't argue with any of this… although Ferlo might ultimately have thrown his support to Lamb after rallying Luke's dispirited forces (my gut tells me that's what he'd rather have done anyway) and that would have brought a certain amount of Luke power. But this is all fanfic.

  21. flybylight

    After a day that began in arguing with my Committeeman (Wagner supporter) whether he could pull out everyone else's signs and throw them into the street, and that continued seeing my former boss wearing her Wagner regalia into the polling places where voting was occurring, and after hearing all the burly men telling voters that Wagner was sure to win so they should get on the “right” side of the vote, not to mention a zillion “Fire Fighters for Wagner” signs (who wants to elect someone that the union wants to have negotiate the other side of their contract? what is that circular logic telling us?), and hearing about the PWSA truck delivering Wagner signs, and various other uncongenial campaigning (okay, there was some congenial campaigning, too, but it gets suppressed under the weight of the ugly), I thought “Hit the Road, Jack” was a funny and appropriate song, and I'm still singing it. Clever DJs are hard to find; Vince Lascheid couldn't have done much better.

  22. Anonymous

    At my my polling place, you could not get into the room without going through Peduto/Rudiak supporters offering their literature. I took it and then voted based upon what I knew about candidates.

    I especially hate when you have someone standing at the door holding handouts and saying this is the democratic endorsed candidates. Those, I do not take, politely state that I know who I am voting for and then go in and vote.

    I have not missed my civic responsibility to vote for close to 40 years and take the vote and the candidates very seriously.

    There needs to be SERIOUS cracking down at the polling place and enforcement of the laws.

    If it takes putting deputies at the polls to stop this behavior and the behavior you described above, this should be done.

    Your old boss is a joke — unfortunately, she is a joke with the power of her office.

    The playing of the song may be cute and others may laugh and giggle about it; but, Bill Peduto is now supposed to be the candidate for all Democrats in the City to include Jack Wagner.

    It is these type of childish games and one-upmanship that turned a lot of folks off to Luke (along with his many other shortcoming which would take a blog onto itself).

    Bill needs to prove through actions, not just words, that he truly is a different politician that wants to reach out to all.

    If he does not, he will soon be wondering why people don't like him and what he is trying to do for the City (I have read almost all of his 100 policy positions and they are very worthy of healthy debate and implementation).

    We can all fool ourselves into thinking that Bill has the support of the City; but, if you look at the voting map, we are now a divided City — Bill and his supporters north and east of the rivers and everybody else.

    Stop the jokes, stop the jabs and reach out to everyone.

  23. Bram Reichbaum

    Not everyone is going to want change or reform. And it's not just about Mr. Peduto – indeed, I think they like to pretend it's personal, because the truth is less flattering – not everyone wants change or reform AT ALL; they like how things work now. It works well for them. Some are already working very hard to attempt to stop reform.

    That's fine and normal, and I don't think Pittsburgh is critically “divided” (Bill had plenty of support from people south of the rivers and whatnot, just not more than 50%, JWagz had support outside his base) but one way to cope with the constant tension is to have a sense of humor. His name is Jack. While the results were coming in, at a party, they played “Hit the road Jack.” If we keep clutching these pearls we'll break the necklace.

  24. Anonymous

    The reform cannot come soon enough.

    Double wishful thinking – 1) Luke resigns now since he is not really working anymore & 2) that the council votes Bill into the position so that we can get started with the reform now.

  25. Anonymous

    I heard one of the candidates say that they were a better choice for mayor than the other candidates. That's just plain mean. Participation trophies for everyone!

  26. MH

    My bad. I just realized the Wagner isn't auditor anymore. You people have to check me on these things.

  27. Anonymous

    Anon at 5/22 2:02 writes of Wagner: “The attack ads on him were brutal!”

    The attack ads on Wagner were effective. They are what won the election for Peduto. He went negative first because he knew he had to, and Wagner just sat there and took it for days on end before Ravenstahl attempted (too late) to save his bacon.

    I was especially amused by the political “expert” (Gerry Shuster at Pitt) who said that it looked like Wagner's and Ravenstahl's negative ads had “backfired.” What kind of amateur hour crap is that? If this guy gets paid money to be a political analyst, I could surely do better.

    Wagner's and Ravenstahl's negative ads did not “backfire.” PEDUTO's negative ads WORKED. In fact, both sides' negative ads worked: the favorability ratings for both candidates dropped. It's just that Peduto's ads were more effective, and Wagner's favorability dropped faster. What an incompetent joke of a campaigner Wagner is.

  28. Bram Reichbaum

    I happen to agree Luke's ads backfired, but maybe because people knew they came from Luke. It gave everyone an excuse to tie Wagner to him. Also because those ads were profoundly silly. It was hard to concentrate on the content with all the science fiction and over-the-top tonality. Even a “negative” ad needs to be pleasant in some way to watch or at least be a neutral viewing experience; an unpleasant negative ad just makes viewers feel attacked themselves.

    Besides which, once upon a time Peduto might have had a “wimp” problem or at least a “dork” problem. As soon as the Committee for a Better Pittsburgh made Peduto out to be an earthshaking, iron-fisted new change agent on the scene, those concerns became ancient history.

    Just an atrociously conceived and executed effort. Wagner's negative ads had problems too but he might have gotten away with them if not for the C4BP, or if he had told the C4BP in clear, loud and uncertain terms to butt out.

  29. MH

    Seriously. How do you lose by 12% to a progressive in Pittsburgh in a three person race when you have more money?

  30. Helen Gerhardt

    The Peduto canvassing team had “commit to vote” cards that had a space for people to write why they were going to be voting for Bill. One person wrote only, “because I saw a Ravenstahl ad” – and I think that answer reflected a trend that j-curved toward the end of the campaigns. In many of my conversations at the doors, people were not only frustrated by the content and tone of the ads, but also by the fact that such a mountain of Ravenstahl money was evidently mean to buy or warp their opinion with such blatant and expensive propaganda.

  31. Mysterious Greenfield Guy

    Here's a weird angle: It's never been clearly explained why the Swiftboaters and Brabender were involved in the Ravenstahl ads. Could it be that the Republicans orchestrated the who debacle to hurt Wagner? Think about it. He's had ample time to make Republican enemies as state legislator and auditor general, and if, in fact, he might have been more effective than Peduto in bringing state support to Pittsburgh, why would Republicans want that? Wouldn't they rather have the less well-connected Peduto in office?

  32. Helen Gerhardt

    Hmmm…seems a bit over the top of Mysteriously convoluted tangle to me, Mr. Greenfield Guy.

    After reading Ravenstahl's now infamous Facebook comment to the PPG, I decided that no rational explanation would really line up with such self-defeating fodder for parody and political counter-attacks.

    I do think that Ravenstahl's Big-Bad-Money-torpedo that helped swiftboat Jack's campaign fits the trajectory of all such similar behavior that the Network found so embarrassing in their mostly malleable but often unpredictably “boyish” representative. Most “investors” probably wanted some relief in a more presentably mature representative and groaned out loud when they read about Ravenstahl's attempt to “help Uncle Jack.”

    Bram, am I correct that you've speculated the near-converse to Mysterious Greenfield Guy's hypothesis – you suggested that Republicans backed Wagner because they thought he would help split the Dems and be a less effective champion and innovator of progressive policies?

  33. Anonymous

    Has Darlene Harris traded in her cigs for joints, or crack? Nothing funnier than her switching parties to run as independent after already garnering no interest in this campaign.

    Yes, nothing funnier…until you see Matt Hogue of all people demanding that she be booted from the Committee. Was he waving chainsaws over his head as he made this demand?

    PGH…always colorful.

  34. MH

    Actually, I was thinking about Republican orchestration and Wagner. I remember the last polls that came out before the election, the one showing Peduto with a strong lead. Wagner said something to the effect that he wasn't worried and they had their own polls. If that's so, as opposed to mere campaign bluster, that's pretty much why Karl Rove thought Ohio was going to go for Romney. They had their own polls, but their pollster was making unwarranted assumptions about the electorate. If Wagner had a pollster who used 2009 turnout patterns, they would have been way, way off.

  35. Bram Reichbaum

    MGG, I admire the willingness to explore conspiracy theories, but that one does seem convoluted and expensive to me. No way would Mr. Ravenstahl and those close to him incinerate their last remaining political capital on a gambit like that.

    Helen, I tried to suggest Republicans backed Wagner because Wagner is more conservative, more amenable to crony capitalism… and yes, less likely to initiate progressive government initiatives that might get people in Western Pennsylvania to start thinking, “Hey, government can do some good! Maybe it's worth funding a little more!”

  36. Helen Gerhardt


    I think the Wagner statement might have been mostly campaign “keeping chins up.” Yes, I don't think Wagner data kept pace with electorate demographics and political changes in neighborhoods he'd long lost direct touch with, but a formerly blustering co-worker of mine that was working on the Wagner campaign started to get mournfully quiet as the day of the election approached and the poll measures sank in. And Wagnerite twittering also sure dropped off in the final week or so, with a very few stalwart exceptions.

    Yes, Rovish strategists might well judge a Wagner win to be in their long term favor, but it doesn't strike me as consistent with what I know of Wagner and camp to directly collude with Roverites or Swiftboaters to gather their information.

    And I've never found it convincing that Wagner directly orchestrated with Ravenstahl, certainly not on those negative ads in light of the clearly predictable consequences. Not a confidence I can declare about the Rev's contributions to the contest, certainly in light of the “Homewood senior highrise attack.”

  37. MH

    Don't wear recently vacated shoes unless they spray them with disinfectant, like at the bowling alley.

  38. Helen Gerhardt


    I actively discouraged speculation about possible upcoming indictments during the campaign, since such hypothetical forays by Pedutoite followers might have led to costly accusations of more seriously negative smear-campaigning.

    But now I feel more free to suggest that the shoe-disinfectant might need to be pretty heavy-duty.

  39. Anonymous

    If Darlene is indeed a registered independent, how did she vote in the recent democrat primary?

    Voter fraud?

  40. Helen Gerhardt

    Did she indeed vote? I had heard that she did entered polls with Wagnerite button or shirt. Any confirmation of either concern?

    I respect the thoroughness of the Peduto campaign training for poll workers, which made it very clear that we should not approach within 10 feet of voting rooms wearing any visible Peduto pins, shirts, etc. The fire fighter for Wagner that I watched over polls with was surprised that he hadn't been informed of the law on this matter in his own training.

  41. Anonymous

    Surely Harris changed her affiliation the day after the election (Wednesday). All she had to do is walk across Ross St. and hit 6 on the elevator.

  42. Bram Reichbaum

    Who cares if the orchestration was direct or indirect… if they're both taking cues from Rev's office and voicing obscure complaints it has nursed for years, that's enough “coordination” to convict before a jury of 300,000. Especially as Jack proved incapable of telling Luke to buzz off without including his opponent Peduto in every same breath. I don't doubt Jack genuinely loathes Luke, and I don't doubt he was deluded enough to be in denial of the cooperation at some levels on his campaign.

  43. Anonymous

    March 4 Harris enters race. If there were to be any excitement about her entry into the campaign – it woulda/shoulda been highest at this point, yet she clocked in with just 5% in March polling.

    March 27 Harris drops out of race, citing family concerns, in particular her mother's health.

    April 22 – less than one month after dropping out – Harris changes D registration to Ind. Wonder what happened to the family-related issues from a few weeks prior? I'm also wondering if she notified the ACDC about her change of party on April 22? As Chair of the 26th ward Dems you'd think she'd know the rules.

    May 21 – Harris worked her district HARD for Wagner, I'm not sure she even delivered her precinct's votes for Jack. Bet lots of folks are chomping at the bit to take her on in 2015.

  44. MH

    Now I've mentally checked off which public officials look to have the most fungal-infested feet, but I'm still stumped.

  45. Helen Gerhardt

    @Anon 11:33 PM.

    You asked if Harris notified the ACDC about her change of party on April 22nd.

    As reported by Chris Potter of the City Paper:

    Patton Mills [chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee] says that, while she heard rumors of Harris' switch yesterday — and while “we kind of thought she might do it” — she didn't have confirmation until today's P-G report. “I also have some questions about her acting as a ward chair since April 22,” Patton Mills says.

    The PPG report that Potter cites is dated May 23rd. To state the obvious, that's quite a long time for the ACDC Chair to be left in the dark by a woman of Harris's position. The decision to keep her position as Democratic ward chair and not to inform the Committee of her party switch seems both highly irresponsible and deceptively self-serving.

    I would appreciate if anyone can provide a news link, provide an eyewitness report, or point me toward evidence that Harris voted in the primary.

  46. Anonymous

    Bram writes at May 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM:

    “I happen to agree Luke's ads backfired, but maybe because people knew they came from Luke.”

    I think you're naive about two things here: (1) overestimating Ravenstahl's unpopularity (a continued fault of liberals in the city) and (2) accepting the idea that negative ads backfire under anything other than extreme circumstances.

    The most recent polls that tested people's views of Ravenstahl himself showed a net unfavorable rating for him, but this is the first year that that happened. And even then, his negative ratings are nowhere near what Murphy's were when he decided not to run. Murphy's long-term antagonist, Bob O'Connor, while not getting a majority the way Peduto did, still won a much more decisive victory over either of his two major opponents — margin-wise — than Peduto just got. That's no accident; it was a result of how much people detested Murphy at that point.

    Negative ads almost never backfire on the candidate who runs them, unless maybe they contain an overt racial slur or something like that. The only local example I can think of is Dan Cohen's racist ads against Bill Coyne in the 1990s. He was supposed to be the liberal running against Coyne, but ended up running to Coyne's right. His ads attacked Coyne for voting to end the crack/powder sentencing disparity, and also implied that Coyne was gay. Fitzgerald left the campaign as a result of this and endorsed Coyne. Peduto of course stayed in and later tried to justify those ads. But they disgusted people so much that Coyne lost.

    That's the extreme exception though. Most of the time, negative ads work. Peduto and his campaign understood this well this time around, and that's why they won. It helps not to be naive about this. Liberals and progressives do better when they're hard-headed and unsentimental about this stuff. Hell, Peduto just proved it.

  47. MH

    You're theory is very easy to disprove. Wagner (or Wagner and people supporting Wagner) ran far more negative ads than Peduto. In my opinion this was true in terms of the content of the ads. It is objectively true in terms of the number of ads.

    I think the effectiveness of negative ads is mostly in suppressing turnout among undecided or weakly committed voters. Peduto won not because of the negative ads alone, but because people who wanted him were more likely to be people who weren't even listening to the campaign. They made up their mind before the ads even started. Wagner didn't have many of these voters.

  48. Bram Reichbaum

    The most recent polls that tested people's views of Ravenstahl himself showed a net unfavorable rating for him, but this is the first year that that happened.

    Were those taken before or after the Chief's indictment? Before or after he went on the lam or some months? Can we see them? You sound a bit like the same Anon that scolded me and others for being naive two posts ago while guaranteeing that “constituency groups” would outperform young liberal know-nothings on Election Day.

  49. Anonymous

    Thanks for the info that the ACDC Chair wasn't aware of Harris' switch til yesterday, (over one full month after Harris made the switch).
    Now I'm wondering if, in addition to removing her as committee woman & chair of her ward's Dem committee, will the ACDC sanction her in some way? Possible sanctions: a fine, or maybe barring her from regaining her membership in her ward's committee and/or its Chairmanship for at least a few years? Or something/anything else? This is an issue well worth resolving in an open fashion, to retain what little faith in the ACDC remains among Pgh voters. Anon 11:33 PM.

  50. Anonymous

    On the issue of Ms. Harris becoming an Independent in April and continuing to act as ward chair, can you smell the scent of arrogance when you get near her? That's the kind of behavior non-voters cite when they try to explain why they do not vote.

  51. Bram Reichbaum

    Well, I only just now figured out what I was going to blog about. And even then, by now we will first have to garland the passionless mounds.

    Thanks for expressing eagerness, though. These threads are a pain to filter, but they're gold.

  52. Bram Reichbaum

    I wouldn't have said arrogance, but there's a disconnect. I wonder suddenly who are her closest advisers. You hear about most everybody else, who their inner circle kinda is.

  53. Mark Rauterkus

    It is fair to say I never even thought about the need to garland the passionless mounds.

    Does that help to explain the good season the Pirates are having with their pitchers?

    I shake my green weenie then.

  54. The Peabody Bard

    The time to decompress is past.
    These threads a pain to filter,
    When so many appear over days.

    For in that sleep of post-election dreams may come
    When we have clicked again this mortal blog,
    Must give us cause to pen a fresh-thought post.

  55. Anonymous

    To Bram on May 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM:

    I don't mean to be rude, but you should read the newspaper before you accuse others of being duplicitous when they cite polls that do not support your presumptions. The relative resilience of Ravenstahl's popularity has been discussed in — for example — this Tribune-Review article about a poll conducted in early April, AFTER Harper had already pleaded guilty:

    Also, I am not the same Anon who talked about “constituency groups,” for what that's worth.

    Meanwhile, MH on May 24, 2013 at 10:48 AM disputes what I said about the effectiveness of negative ads, on the grounds that Wagner ran more negative ads. But s/he misses the crucial point, which is that Peduto went negative FIRST. This is a fact. It's not a moral judgment. If anything it's to Peduto's credit, because it shows he knew what it takes to win, while Wagner was a complacent fool.

  56. Bram Reichbaum

    46% approval among likely Democratic voters on April 1 and 2 sounds pretty much like the dead cat bounce Mikus was describing. I wonder what was his job approval more generally. Meanwhile, that was before the Housing Authority heated up, the Market Square situation heated up, the heat was turned up on higher ups in the Police Dept. and the Finance Dept., and the police bureau investigation became the Pittsburgh Investigation, and all while the Mayor was taking cover. So that 46% among likely voters was likely on the way further down by the time the ads hit. Then they turned out to be from a shadowy PAC (not Luke himself) with Republican connections, which itself drove it down even more.

    You really think “Both Ways Wagner”, Meals on Wheels and the pension & pay raise ad hurt Wagner that bad? I could have sworn it was the fact that Peduto sounded like the only one serious about cleaning up the Police Bureau, and all the Twitter yahoos chattering away constantly.

  57. MH

    I'm a he.

    I'm also actually semi-well versed in the survey research and political communication. If it were simply a matter of going negative first, or worst, or whatever, every campaign would do more and more of them to the exclusion of anything else. There's a limit to what they can do by themselves and Wagner's campaign is a good illustration of it. You can think of negative ads as putting out bits of information like a virus. If that virus hits a host with resistance (for example, who knows Peduto's long history of work on living wage issues), it won't take. If it hits somebody who doesn't know much or care much, there's a good chance it will take. Peduto could put forth positive issues that kept his voters from absorbing the negative information. Wagner couldn't do that, either because the campaign was poorly run or because the various people whose votes he needed had different positive programs they wanted.

    And I think the pension/pay raise charge was completely fair. For the record, I would have happily voted Wagner against Ravenstahl. He'd clearly have been a big improvement over.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.