Peduto to keep options open come fall

But councilman looking more toward 2009 race

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City Councilman William Peduto is keeping at least a vestige of his campaign organization in place, but, short of a renewed bid for the Pittsburgh mayor's office on his own part, he has no immediate plans of wielding it as a force in this year's elections.

Mr. Peduto, who effectively resolved the Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday with his surprising decision to abandon his candidacy, reiterated that he's made no decision on whether to pursue an independent candidacy in the fall.

He suggested, however, that barring some unexpected upheaval in the Ravenstahl administration in the next few weeks, 2009 was a more likely target for his ambitions. That is when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who now faces no opposition in either the primary or general elections to serve out the term of the late Mayor Bob O'Connor, would have to seek re-election for a full term.

Such a politically damaging misstep by the mayor would have to come soon, from Mr. Peduto's point of view, since the councilman has only until April 15 to drop his Democratic registration to make himself eligible, under state law, to be an independent candidate in the fall.

In the meantime, Mr. Peduto said, he has no plans on endorsing anyone in the primary. That includes Mr. Ravenstahl, with whom, he said, he'd had a cordial conversation after his Tuesday announcement. Despite his decision on the mayor's race, Mr. Peduto is holding a fund-raising event for his campaign committee next week. He said he had no plans to use its resources to work for any other candidate in other races on the primary ballot.

While stressing that he intended to keep all of his options open, the councilman said he hadn't thought about what he might do if some other candidate challenged the mayor in November.

Mr. Peduto said that withdrawing from the race was a painful decision but acknowledged that his own polls showed that he had no realistic shot at defeating Mr. Ravenstahl. There is no evidence that even a strongly negative campaign designed to dent Mr. Ravenstahl's popularity would have brought a primary victory within his grasp.

Mr. Peduto acknowledged that staying in the race would have given him a forum to spotlight some of the issues he views as important, but he said that a thumping defeat at Mr. Ravenstahl's hands might have stifled his voice as an advocate of reform in the future.


Politics Editor James O'Toole can be reached at jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.


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