Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gutter: Why you wanna go and do that?

Bill Peduto has pulled out of the race for the Democratic mayoral nomination. As a result, my great plan of political action has gone down the toilet.

Let me explain:

Several years ago I thought I would make our nation’s two-party mandate work for me. So, despite my generally liberal/libertarian views (although those two don’t always overlap), I registered as a Republican. My line of thinking was that I would vote with that designation, but since my votes would usually tend toward Democrats, the voting statistics would show that a Republican had broken party lines and voted Democrat.

I then concluded that if I could convince many others to do the same thing, we could create a cause for concern within the GOP when they saw large numbers of their “supporters” cross party lines. That concern would then translate into panic and self-doubt; long term, the party would eventually unravel. I liked to think of this as tearing down the Republican party from the inside.

I was very proud of this plan, and I would boast of it to anyone who would listen.

But then Bill Peduto came into my life.

Well, not really. What happened was Luke Ravenstahl became the mayor of Pittsburgh and I began to develop an interest in city politics. Now, I’m not to be confused with the far-more advanced and well-read pundits at such luminary blogs as The Burgh Report or The People’s Republic of Pittsburgh, two of my favorite Pittsburgh-centric blogs, but through reading their work and the work of others, I came to form some opinions on the young mayor and his primary opposition in the Democratic primary, Bill Peduto.

I won’t go through what I like and dislike about each candidate because, quite frankly, it’s pretty meaningless now. But I found that I tended to prefer what I learned about Peduto over what I learned about Ravenstahl.

But as I was trying to learn me some Pittsburgh politics, I realized a crucial issue: with Pennsylvania's closed primary laws, I, as a registered Republican, wouldn’t be permitted to vote in the Democratic primary. I could vote in the general election, but by then the real decision would have already been made. The true vote for mayor is the Democratic primary, and my voice could not be heard because of my crusade against the Republican Party.

Then, as fate would have it, the state Department of Transportation showed up in a most pleasant way when they informed me that I needed to renew my driver’s license in February. The process of renewing one’s license in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania includes the opportunity to register to vote, or, if one is already registered, the opportunity to update one’s voter information.

Fortune smiled upon me, and I seized the opportunity to have a say in choosing this fair city’s next mayor. With the future of Pittsburgh as my focus, I put aside my personal mission to tear down the GOP from the inside and changed my party affiliation. I walked out of the AAA Motor Garden in East Liberty that day as a man who would be a part of the local political machine. I would be a spoke in the wheels as this great city rolls forward.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2007, the wheels fell off when Peduto announced that he was withdrawing from the race. He gave some nonsense reasons about wanting to have an issues-based race and not wanting to divide the city and that "The only way to win would be to go negative.”


Speculation seems to circulate around Peduto bailing because 1) he’s not a good campaigner, or 2) he didn’t raise enough money, and those two could be connected.


The Admiral at The People’s Republic thinks Peduto could be lining up for a run as an independent candidate in November, and there’s some discussion on that blog about whether or not he missed his chance on that one. Either way, I don’t buy it, and if that is Peduto’s plan, it seems like a poor decision: there was enough negativity about Ravenstahl that Peduto probably could have won the nomination. As an independent, he would never be able to produce the resources necessary to win the general election, nor would he have the backing of the powerful Pittsburgh Democratic Machine (which I assume exists).

All I know is that Bill Peduto has torpedoed my carefully-laid plan. I guess I could change my party affiliation back to the GOP and put the plan back in action, but it took a personal invitation from the Department of Transportation to get me to switch my party in the first place, so it seems unlikely that I will do it again.

Anyway, that’s not what it’s about. At some point, I became genuinely interested in the future of this city and I developed a genuine interest in having a say in who made the decisions that would have an impact on the future of this city. Now I feel like that opportunity has been taken away because Bill Peduto, for whatever reason, has decided not to run. As mentioned in the Post-Gazette (the article I linked in the first sentence of this post), Ravenstahl and Peduto were the only candidates who filed petitions to appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary.

So that’s it. Unless some dark horse comes along and somehow beats Ravenstahl in May, it’s done. I hope my political interest in Pittsburgh doesn't go with it.

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