Divide and conquer: A crowded mayoral field will offer no alternative

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After six years in office, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl wants four more. But a surprising roster of fellow Democrats believe he's not the best person for the job.

Councilman Bill Peduto officially entered the race for the party nomination last week, with the full support of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, no less. In the wings is city Controller Michael Lamb, who also has been raising money and is likely to announce his candidacy in the next few weeks. Speculation continues around the intentions of Jack Wagner, the former city councilman who is wrapping up as state auditor general.

That's a formidable potential field, but the more challengers there are, the less chance any one of them has of being a real alternative. With each Democratic candidate who enters the race, the renomination -- and, in this city, the re-election -- of Luke Ravenstahl becomes a greater certainty. There is nothing better for an incumbent than several challengers to divide the opposition vote.

But if these party figures and others really want to offer Democrats a real option in 2013, they should ensure that the mayor faces a single challenger on May 21. That way the incumbent can run on his record while one opponent offers an alternative view of how to lead and govern Pittsburgh in the next four years.

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