Politically Savvy Friends

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Six Weeks to Go

Dear Politically Savvy Friends,

Well, give Mark DeSantis some credit for trying to stir the political waters this last week. The guy's been mighty aggressive attacking Luke Ravenstahl over the last 10 days, going after him on ethics, crime, finances, and now most recently attacking Ravenstahl for having a bloated personal office staff [see TV story on right]. The problem for DeSantis, of course, is that there's no indication that anyone is listening to him. The mayor just keeps doing his mayoral thing, ignoring his opponent, and acting like DeSantis is some pesky insect that he must endure for a season until cold weather knocks him out.

It's tempting to say this election is all over with the only question being how big Luke wins -- 60%, 70%, 80%. But don't tell DeSantis that. Where some people think the voting public has already decided to "give the kid a chance" for at least another two years -- yes, we go through this again in 2009 -- DeSantis thinks at least 50% of the voters are still uncertain about Ravenstahl's qualifications to guide the city through tough times ahead. Even if that were true, I don't think the public is sold on DeSantis to do the guiding instead. After all, nobody really knows who he is.

DeSantis is expected to begin his campaign ads shortly. Maybe the ads will be so extraordinary that the public will give him a look-see, but don't bet on it. Part of the problem is that Luke preaches the always popular "good times are here" sermon, while Mark is into that "gloom and doom" message. My 25+ years in the political world -- take it for what it's worth -- have taught me repeatedly that, unless life is personally unbearable for people or something angers them deeply, the positive always sells better than the negative. For now at least, the "feel good" message of Luke resonates far stronger than Mark's "warnings" about the future. It may be as simple as that.

Six weeks can be an eternity in politics, and I've seen no reliable independent polls in the race for mayor of Pittsburgh. But nothing persuades me that an upset is in the making. Taking on an incumbent is always challenging, especially when as mayor Ravenstahl dominates the print and broadcast news media. The local media has given DeSantis more time and space than any other Republican candidate for mayor, but add up the column inches and the airtime and Luke the incumbent still dominates the media four-to-one. Challengers always complain to me about that, but, hey, the "news" business is supposed to report the "news" and incumbent office-holders "make" news far more than challengers. Still, most responsible journalists are now seeking DeSantis out for his "reaction" when the mayor makes a policy pronouncement of some sort because that is the right thing to do in the midst of a campaign. But after election day passes, it's back to the incumbent all the time!

If readers see anything unusual or interesting on the campaign trail, please do email me. Back and forth press conferences get pretty boring! And stay alert. If the campaign for mayor, so far, has put you to sleep, I suspect the rhetoric will only get hotter in the weeks remaining. Let's hope so!


Schultz said...

I am waiting to see if the Mayor has a plan to deal with all of the blighted properties around town. Some progress has been made, but the number of vacated properties is still growing at an unreasonable rate.

I have been in the neighborhoods with Mark and have also been in the neighborhoods with other volunteers to get his message out to voters. You would be surprised at how many voters are ready for change and are open to hearing more from Mark on his plans for the city. A few said they are supporting Luke, but many have said that Mark already has their vote.

It is not doom and gloom for everyone, but look at how bad it is in some of our neighborhoods. The crime and blight has gotten so bad in parts of the city, and the quality of our public schools isn't faring much better.

Please read my
My recent blog post on our blighted properties problem for more on my experience dealing with this issue.

EdHeath said...

Any chance a Ravenstahl scandal will break before the election? I have heard rumor of FOIA requests with regard to police logs, any word on progress there?

Well, I still believe advertising could win DeSantis the election, but my estimate on the possibility is something akin to a camel through the eye of a needle.

Schultz said...

I've heard rumors of another scandal, but how about another broken promise by the mayor??? He sent postcards to the folks on the North Side saying "Please join me for a community meeting........."

His signature was on it and everything yet he failed to show up! Unbelievable, the audacity of this guy.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Jon, left a DVD for you to review today at KDKA TV. Hope you watch it soon.

Reactions welcomed. Blog about it.