Monday, February 05, 2007

Reflections on the Pittsburgh Mayoral Primary

It is now February, 3 1/2 months before the 2007 May Primary, and the oddest thing has happened, or rather not happened: only two people have officially declared their intentions to run for the office of Mayor of Pittsburgh. One would have presumed, with a generally inexperienced mayor, we would have been seeing a crowded field filled with those with mayoral aspirations.*

Sadly, however, this is not the case and it's making for a dull political season, although it is doing wonders for my insomnia.

Still, what's atypical is that the current mayor is in a fairly weak position for an incumbent. This is not, as some would scoff, because of any perceived wishy-washiness, but because of the unusual circumstance that he finds himself in. For a typical incumbent, there are about four years worth of policies (both good and bad) to run on (and run against). The current administration, through no fault of its own, has only five MONTHS of policies to stand behind. Off the top of my head, I can list the following policies: grieving, appearing on Letterman, firing Dennis Regan, buying back old liens, denying the mayor was arrested, moving Pittsburgh forward, and smacking around Jim Motznik.** Some of these are better policies than others, but not so much to run on.

But, now it's crunch time. Mr. Ravenstahl has about 3 1/2 months to do... well... something, ANYTHING that will get him elected in May. That, of course, gets to the nub of Luke's greatest advantage: as Mayor he has the ability to set the policy agenda for the City of Pittsburgh, to effectuate real policy, and to implement projects. Such is the advantage of the incumbent.

One can only assume, therefore, that the Mayor's Office will start to aggressively push highly visible items in order to garner press for his agenda, in the hopes of generating some sort of grass roots support. With time running out, it means this is going to be a rush to get things done. With a nearly empty field, it is vital that the Mayor does something, ANYTHING so as to differentiate himself from his opponent and to start attracting votes.

Stay tuned...

* Of course, who wants to be Mayor for only two years? And who wants to live forever? And who wants pie?
** Yeah, yeah, I'm being unfair.


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