Luke Ravenstahl will not seek another term as Pittsburgh’s Mayor, he announced at a press conference today. He will serve out the remainder of his term.
He cited the heavy cost of life in the public eye as the biggest reason.
“The growing demands of this office are difficult to describe. The sacrifices, significant,” he said, especially for his family.
“After a careful and considerable amount of thought, I have decided that price has become too great to endure. And as a result, I’m here today to announce that I’m dropping my bid for re-election.”
Ravenstahl has endured a rocky few weeks as a scandal embroiled the Pittsburgh Police Bureau, and officers’ interactions with the Mayor. Word leaked to the press Thursday that he was thinking of exiting the race.
He said the ongoing investigation was not a factor in his decision, one he added he had considered over the past few years. He announced his re-election campaign just 11 days ago, before the bad headlines began in full force.
“I know without a doubt that I did nothing wrong. That’s not why this decision was made. I know folks won’t believe that. Many of you guys may not believe that,” he said. “But over time the truth will prevail.”
Ravenstahl, 33, became one of the nation’s youngest mayors in 2006 when he took over for the late Bob O’Connor (he was City Council President at the time). He easily won a special election in 2007 and a regular election in 2009.
As he noted in his sincere remarks, the city has vastly improved since he first took office. Economically and culturally, the city is unquestionably on the rise.
His exit totally changes the 2013 mayoral primary, which observers almost universally expected him to win. Ravenstahl isn’t likely to sit out the primary; he said he had another candidate in mind he’d like to get into the race – although he didn’t give a name.
Of the nearly $1 million in his campaign account, he said he’d speak with his donors to determine how to use it.
The two candidates at present are City Controller Michael Lamb and City Councilman Bill Peduto. Former Pa. Auditor General Jack Wagner has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
The 250 petition signatures necessary to get on the ballot aren’t due until March 12, so it’s entirely possible that another candidate could jump into the race. It’s past the the Allegheny County Democratic Committee deadline for candidates to seek the endorsement, so Lamb will get it by default.
Debate has been raging in Pittsburgh since rumors of the Mayor’s exit first surfaced about which of the two current candidates benefits the most – even though the conversation could be nullified if the Mayor’s operation coalesces behind another person.
Lamb stands a better chance of picking up the working class voters who constituted Ravenstahl’s base. And he’s all but guaranteed to get the Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsement; their deadline has passed and Peduto declined to be considered.
Peduto, the progressive hopeful, built his campaign to a great extent as the anti-Ravenstahl. He’s been a critic of the Mayor for years. Now he’ll need to re-tool. His edge comes with his strong support from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who has the resources to make a strong and immediate push into the vacuum. He can also help bring the Mayor’s donors into the fold.
Wagner’s track record for fundraising is less than impressive and he doesn’t have an active campaign structure, but he’d start off on day 1 with strong name ID. Wagner would pull from both candidates, but would help Peduto by splitting Lamb’s southside base.