PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto filed the necessary paperwork to run for mayor Thursday.
County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he is supporting Peduto in his efforts and is donating the “maximum amount allowed by law” to Peduto's mayoral campaign.
“My goal isn’t really to put down the mayor at this point. My goal is to be able to put together the foundations of a campaign to be able to make that message clear during next year,” Peduto said.
Peduto, D-Point Breeze, hasn’t announced he’s running for mayor, but said on Twitter on Thursday morning that he “filed the paperwork necessary to make (him) eligible to run for Mayor of Pittsburgh.” He thanked Fitzgerald, D-Point Breeze, for his donation. City law limits donations to $8,000 for political committees per election.
“Bill was a big supporter of mine,” Fitzgerald said, adding that his $8,000 contribution wasn’t an endorsement of Peduto because the city councilman from Point Breeze isn’t officially running yet. “He helped me immensely in the county executive race, and I don’t forget those kinds of things. I’m loyal to the friends who help me out.”
Peduto, a fellow Democrat, thanked Fitzgerald for the donation via Twitter. His post, which also announced he’d filed the paperwork necessary to run citywide, came 15 minutes after Fitzgerald’s political committee sent its email announcing Fitzgerald’s donation.
“It’s a reflection of the fact that Rich and Bill both share a passion for the region and have worked together tirelessly to move the region forward,” said Eric Hagarty, a campaign spokesman for Peduto who also works as a political staffer for Fitzgerald.
Despite Fitzgerald’s announcement, City Controller Michael Lamb said he’s still “seriously considering running for mayor.”
“My decision won’t be based on what anybody else does. It’ll be based on what’s best for me and the city of Pittsburgh,” said Lamb, D-Mt. Washington.
Auditor General Jack Wagner, D-Beechview, said he’s considering running and will decide by the end of the year whether to jump in.
“I’m very seriously thinking about running for mayor,” Wagner said. “Mr. Fitzgerald has every right to support whoever he chooses. If I do run for mayor and I’m fortunate enough to win, I will work with anyone in the best interest of Pittsburgh, including Mr. Fitzgerald.”
His niece, County Controller Chelsa Wagner, who has clashed with Fitzgerald publicly, gave Jack Wagner a “99 percent” chance of running.
“I certainly consider Bill a good friend, and he knows that, but every indication is I’ll be supporting my uncle,” Chelsa Wagner said. She said she’s concerned about Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s administration.
“I, like many city residents, am disappointed in his administration and I think there’s a clear need for a change of direction,” she said.
Fitzgerald occupies one of the state’s highest-profile offices, with nearly 1 million more constituents than Ravenstahl. Peduto has been one of Ravenstahl’s chief political foes since they ran against each other in 2007.
Fitzgerald said his announcement wasn’t intended to send a signal to other potential candidates, nor does it reflect poor relations with Ravenstahl, with whom he last met a week or two ago.
“I’m always willing to work with the mayor or City Council,” Fitzgerald said. Asked if he plans to make the same donation to Ravenstahl, he said, “We’ll have to see... Nobody else has asked me.”
The Democratic primary all but decides the mayor’s race because of the party’s large registration advantage. The 2013 primary is scheduled for May 21.
“Ravenstahl admitted Friday that he and Fitzgerald haven’t always agreed.
“For example, I’ve disagreed with the use of road funding and want to try to find an alternative solution to that. I think it’s important for our parks, libraries and cultural system. I don’t know if that’s one of the reasons Rich decided to do what he did,” Ravenstahl said.
“The timing is curious because I think we, as Democrats, should be focused on getting Democrats re-elected,” Ravenstahl said.
Ravenstahl hasn’t had a serious challenger in his two campaigns. In 2007, he easily beat Republican challenger Mark Desantis by a 63-35 percent advantage. In 2009, he won 55 percent of the vote over two independent opponents.
“We’re getting ahead of ourselves. I’ve been campaigning throughout the fall season for the president, the Obama-Biden ticket, Senator Casey, Congressman Critz” and other Democrats,” Fitzgerald said.
Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.