Filings with the Allegheny County Democratic Committee show Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has a new Democratic challenger in the May 21 primary and so does fellow incumbent Daniel Lavelle.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Bill Peduto will not seek the committee's nod, strategizing that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has it wrapped up.
Former Councilwoman Tonya Payne is seeking the committee's endorsement to again face Mr. Lavelle, who forced her from office in 2009. Former mayoral candidate Dok Harris also plans to challenge Mr. Lavelle, but he is not seeking the committee's nod. Ms. Payne had the endorsement in 2009 but still lost to Mr. Lavelle, a one-time aide to former Councilman Sala Udin.
Friday was the deadline for candidates to file for the committee's endorsement at its meeting March 10.
Mr. Ravenstahl and city Controller Michael Lamb will seek the party machinery's nod in the mayor's race, while Mr. Peduto, who failed to get the nod in his aborted 2009 challenge of Mr. Ravenstahl, will use his energies elsewhere. "We're going directly to the voters," he said.
Ms. Rudiak, too, is not seeking the committee's nod in defending her District 4 seat, leaving it to former postal worker and basketball coach John Lee of Brookline. Mr. Lee, 52, is the former head coach for Seton-LaSalle, Bishop Canevin and Baldwin high schools, and has broadcast high school basketball and football games the last 12 years for the MSN Sports network.
The district represents Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, Overbrook and a slice of Mount Washington.
Though he does not know the mayor personally, Mr. Lee said the city's southern neighborhoods would benefit from having a councilman who relates better to the Ravenstahl administration than Ms. Rudiak, a regular critic of the mayor.
"The district has been shortchanged, especially over the last four years due to the acrimonious relationship between Natalia and the administration," Mr. Lee said. "From my coaching and management background I have a good ability to deal with people."
Ms. Rudiak, meanwhile, has already raised $119,630 for her re-election effort, which her campaign notes is twice what she spent in her first run in 2009.
"We're excited to get the campaign started and we're confident we'll secure a victory" in the May 21 primary, campaign manager John Fournier said. "No one can approach the amount of work Natalia has done in the neighborhoods the last four years."
On Allegheny County Council, state Democratic Party chairman Jim Burn is not running for re-election to his county District 3 seat. Democrats Shawn Flaherty, who briefly served in the state Legislature in 2006 after Jeff Habay was found guilty of public corruption charges, is seeking the committee nod, as is Mary Gibson, corporate counsel for Giant Eagle.
Tim McNulty: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns.