Politically Savvy Friends

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Campaign 2007 -- Does Anyone Care?

Dear Politically Savvy Friend,

I'm back! Yes, it's been a long summer and, yes, I did take a bit of a hiatus from this sport of blogging. Truth be told, it's not easy to blog every day -- which has only increased my tremendous admiration for those bloggers who manage to find time every single day to write something. You are an amazing group of people, either very sick or very determined, but in either case highly focused on meeting a self-imposed blog deadline much the way I must meet a TV or newspaper deadline. Props to y'inz, y'all, and you!

Campaign 2007 sometimes seems to be overwhelmed by Campaign 2008, but Republican candidate Mark DeSantis is -- slowly -- beginning to demonstrate some life in his steep uphill battle to unseat incumbent Democrat Luke Ravenstahl in the race for mayor of Pittsburgh. Of course, it's questionable how many people care about this race.

The best guess is that no more than 60,000 people will vote. Some pundits think 50,000 is closer to reality. And nobody really thinks Luke will lose this. Two years ago, Republican Joe Weinroth got 27 percent of the vote with about 6 percent splitting among some third party candidates. Democrat Bob O'Connor got the rest -- a whopping 67%.

But, hold on. Ravenstahl could actually do better than O'Connor. In 2005, O'Connor still had some negative residue from supporters of Democrats Michael Lamb and Bill Peduto (both of whom challenged him in the primary), although both Lamb and Peduto endorsed O'Connor in the fall. In 2007, among Democrats (and, let's face it, they're the ones who count in Pittsburgh) at least, Ravenstahl does NOT have 50 percent of his own party on record as voting AGAINST him in the spring primary. In my view, that gives him the potential to win more than 67 percent of the vote on November 6.

Now, it is true that Peduto has NOT endorsed Luke and is not likely to do so. But Peduto has not endorsed DeSantis either. In fact, no high profile Democrat has endorsed DeSantis as far as I know. And DeSantis can only make this close by attracting hundreds of Democrats to his cause.

That has not stopped the Republican candidate from stepping up his rhetoric against Ravenstahl in the last two weeks, accusing Ravenstahl of being the photo op candidate more interested in celebrities than city finances, a man with no accomplishments despite a year in office, and an old school politician who is more than a little ethically challenged.

The news media and the blogosphere, of course, will enjoy reporting a good old-fashioned slugfest between these two, but I'm not convinced that the vast majority of Pittsburgh residents are tuned in to any of this. I talk to a lot of folks on the streets -- many just come up to me -- and while some have doubsts about Luke, most know nothing about DeSantis and seem perfectly content to give the mayor another two years to demonstrate he has what it takes. Perhaps that will change once DeSantis hits the TV and radio airwaves, but even if DeSantis gets 20,000 votes, I'm still betting Ravensahl wins in a typical Democratic landslide.

Other races are on the ballot, but I'll hold for another post. In the meantime, I welcome your comments, and click on to some of my TV stories over on the right. It feels good to be back.


Mark Rauterkus said...

My warm welcome that notes your return (of sorts) has been posted at my blog.

By the way, I care. Many city residents do.

Mark Rauterkus said...


Sherry said...

goog to see you back. i was begining to think you had just decided to stop.

The Bag of Health and Politics said...
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The Bag of Health and Politics said...

How about sick and determined? That probably describes me the best:). Hope you had a nice summer

Dietrich said...
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