Pittsburgh City Councilman William Peduto today withdrew from the Democratic primary for mayor.
However, he didn't rule out a bid as an independent in the November general election or as a Democrat in 2009.
At a 3 p.m. press conference, Mr. Peduto said he wanted to avoid dividing the city. He said it had become clear to him that, in order to win, he would have to focus on the mis-steps of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
"I've come to the conclusion that it's in Pittsburgh's best interests to avoid the divisiveness of a political campaign this spring," he said.
"The passion to change Pittsburgh does not make me the lone reformer. It makes me the leader of a movement."
He said the challenge of raising money, his showing at the Democratic Committee endorsement vote and internal polls showing him behind Mr. Ravenstahl did not drive the decision.
Rather, a generally negative political climate deterred him from continuing.
"The only way to win would be to go negative," he said, noting controversies over the mayor's appointments and recent trip to New York with a Penguins co-owner.
He said he would have preferred to focus on his own message of reform.
Only the councilman and the mayor filed petitions to appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary, which usually decides city elections. No Republican has filed. An independent or write-in candidate could conceivably run in the November general election.
The winner in November will serve out the term won in 2005 by the late Bob O'Connor and will face voters again in 2009.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.