Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Jack Wagner sought to distance himself today from an advertising attack by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on rival Bill Peduto, calling squabbles between the two men "childish."
At a press conference today the former state auditor general and City Council president said "there is a battle going on in the fifth floor of the City-County Building that's been going on for years. I don't understand it, but it is a dysfunctional, childish environment in city government. It's about time that ends. It's about time adults were running city government."
A secretive group began running television advertisements Monday hammering Mr. Peduto, who is seeking the May 21 Democratic nomination for mayor, for votes it said were against the interest of black voters and low-income workers.
Documents filed Tuesday showed the group is chaired by Mr. Ravenstahl and that his group placed the ads using a Republican media firm responsible for the "Swift Boat" ads targeting presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
After a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on his connection to the ads broke Tuesday, the mayor posted a Facebook comment on the newspaper site saying "no one is hiding anything" about his involvement in the ads and he would televise more "to expose the real Bill Peduto."
Mr. Peduto said Tuesday that Mr. Wagner should disavow the mayor's ad campaign and argued he was somewhat responsible for the Ravenstahl attack since many of Mr. Wagner's major contributors were formerly behind the mayor.
Mr. Wagner and Mr. Peduto are the chief candidates to win the May 21 nomination, running along with state Rep. Jake Wheatley of the Hill District. Sheraden activist A.J. Richardson is also on the ballot.
Mr. Wagner said again today that he denounced all negative advertising and noted Mr. Peduto was the first candidate to televise attack ads this campaign.
"Anyone who initiates a negative campaign and can't deal with it is an indication of their immaturity," Mr. Wagner said. "... These people need to grow up."
Tim McNulty: email@example.com or 412-263-1581. First Published May 1, 2013 7:00 PM