Early to battle: Peduto makes his move toward a run for mayor

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With the political focus firmly on the presidential race, it is easy to forget that next year will see a mayoral race in Pittsburgh. But city Councilman Bill Peduto. twice a candidate for the job, reminded voters Thursday about the 2013 Democratic primary -- and served notice that it will be competitive.

Mr. Peduto filed election papers as his first official step to challenging Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the spring. According to a spokesman, the filing allows Mr. Peduto, who won't officially declare his candidacy until after the November election, to establish a political committee and start fundraising. He also plans to open a campaign office today in the Strip District.

This much is clear in these early days. He won't lack for support at the highest level of local government. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, although stopping short of endorsing Mr. Peduto, gave him a check for $8,000. He was noncommittal when asked if he would also donate to Mr. Ravenstahl's campaign.

Probably not. Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Peduto are known to be close, often appearing at the same events. And Mr. Fitzgerald says the councilman was among his strongest supporters in his successful county race last year.

This early start and flourish of support can be interpreted a couple of ways. Mr. Peduto is very serious this time, and both he and Mr. Fitzgerald are sending a message to other would-be primary challengers to stay away.

Mr. Peduto ran for mayor in 2005 when he was beaten soundly by Bob O'Connor in the primary. He was back as a candidate in 2007, but pulled out two months before the primary election against then-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who succeeded Mr. O'Connor upon his death. His departure from the race earned Mr. Peduto a sharp rebuke from the Post-Gazette, which characterized the move in an editorial as political cowardice.

Our interest then was giving the voters a real choice and that is still our interest, not only in the primary but also the general election. To that end, we hope Republicans will take this early hint and start thinking about a viable, well-funded mayoral candidate who offers voters a credible option and a return of the two-party system in Pittsburgh.

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