Thursday, March 22, 2007

Winners Never Quit, BILL!

Alright, now that everyone's settled down a bit, here are some real thoughts about the whole Peduto withdrawal thing:

I'm with JP in that I don't believe that Otis dropped out because he didn't want the campaign to go negative. Democrats are intimately familiar with and painfully aware of the power of negative campaigning. To say a politician is above "going negative" is like saying the sea is above the sky.

Dayvoe's interview with Doug Sheilds, however, presents a more nuanced picture: Bill doesn't want to go negative because it will affect his image and his ability to run for office in the future. Indeed, when so much of the Democratic establishment lines up against you, it may not be a wise move to twirl up a wet towel and whack their boy in the love spuds. Anybody with an older brother on 'roids will tell you that much. If Bill was hoping to count on the support of some of those establishment funders later down the road on another campaign, best not to enrage them now.

Or as the first vulgar saying goes: "Don't shit in your own bed."

More subtly, however, I would argue that the effectiveness of negative campaigning at this point also had something to do with Bill's decision. With only (Um... September... January... February) seven months in office, it was difficult for Peduto to argue that Ravenstahl conceived policies were bad. If Luke had been in office for twelve years, a la Tom Murphy, Bill would have many more defective policies to target. Unfortunately, without a good, solid, broad issue to hang his hopes on, the campaign had to basically rely on the old chestnut, "Anything you can do I can do better."

So, perhaps this is a tactical manoeuvre on Bill's part: give the kid a bit more rope and let him hang himself with it in '09.

But this brings me back to the efficacy point. The number of Ravenstahl scandals seemed to multiply every day; from the first "Arrested at a Steeler's Game" to the "RonAir Trip" and everything in between, there was enough ammunition for the Peduto camp to work off of. Unfortunately for Otis' campaign, very little of it seemed to stick to Opie. Considering some of the blistering missteps made, one would have thought that Luke would have been a dead duck; but that was not to be. Perhaps Bill just felt that at this point, if the kid can weather these political storm nothing (short of a dead girl or a live boy) is going to turn the campaign around with only one and a half months to go.

Or, as the second vulgar saying goes: Don't piss into the wind.

Bill's major disadvantage was that he was running against a blank slate incumbent. Luke could decide what he wanted to be and force the apparatus of government to enact policies that would be popular, knowing full well that they only have to effective until right after the election. That may be cynical, but I don't think that it's coincidental that after blowing off the Lower Hill last week and alienating members of the Black leadership, the administration resurrected and resolved the lingering Oak Hill residents/University of Pittsburgh problem in the former Allequippa Terrace housing projects.

Although, if they had waited a couple days until after Bill's withdrawal, they wouldn't have had to rush around to get something accomplished.

I doubt that Otis is going to sit back and pull an October surprise, jumping into the Fall race, partially because that will just possibly tick off those all important Democratic funders, but mostly because I'm pretty sure that switching parties is illegal at this point. Chris Briem has the same hunch.

But them's my thoughts for now. Hopefully I can slough off the local politics for awhile and get to stuff that really matters to my readers:

Federal reductions in CDBG allocations to Cities and the benefits of a land/building split real estate tax.

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