by Chris Potter
Here's a little political news for a Friday afternoon: The Gertrude Stein Political Club, the city's longstanding LGBT voters' organization, has endorsed Franco "Dok" Harris for mayor.
From the group's endorsement:
An active Democrat for many years, Harris is currently running as an independent/third party candidate. Mr. Harris is a well-spoken and well educated businessman who happens to share the most famous name in Pittsburgh with his Steeler father, along with his mother Dana Dokmanovich's name and her long-time democratic and progressive activism. He dropped by the endorsement meeting to speak about growing up in the North Side's Mexican War streets--which he described as benefitting from "a rich diversity" of race, age, wealth, and orientation-- and to emphasize his enthusiasm for working with, and for, all Pittsburghers, most definitely including LGBT citizens.
This is just the latest chapter in what has been a very interesting political story in recent years: the extent to which local politicians have begun coveting the support of LGBT voters. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has sought the support of gay organizations in the past ... and I'm sure Kevin Acklin, Ravenstahl's other challenger this November, would have liked to have the Gertrude Stein club's support.
But although Acklin supports gay marriage, and supported the countywide anti-discrimination ordinance, he is also
anti-choice. (Editor's note: Some readers objected to this characterization of Acklin's position, with some justice. See the comments section below.) That's not going to help you with a group like the Gertrude Stein Club, which identifies itself as Pittsburgh "home-grown LGBT & feminist organization." Besides, Harris has impressed other LGBT advocates as well, as you'll see from this blog post by Sue Kerr.
So if you're an anti-Ravenstahl voter trying to decide which of these two challengers to back, here's an issue that may help you to distinguish between them.
The Stein Club announced some judicial endorsements as well:
-- State Supreme Court: Jack Panella
-- Superior Court: Robert J. "Bob" Colville, Anne E. Lazarus and Kevin F. McCarthy
-- Commonwealth Court: Barbara Behrend Ernsberger and Linda S. Judson
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas: Joe Willams, Susan Evashavik DiLucente, Arnie Klein and Don Walko. (The Club also backs Judge Kim Eaton in her bid for retention.)
In local municipal races, the Club "enthusiastically support[s]" county councilor Amanda Green, the District 13 representative who sponsored the anti-discrimination ordinance. It also backs Thomas R. Michalow, the Democratic challenger in District 1, where he is taking on Republican Matt Drozd.
For city council, the Club chose Natalia Rudiak in District 4, Robert Daniel Lavelle in District 6, and Bill Peduto in District 8. For the city's school board, it reiterated previous support for Sharene Shealey in district 1 and Thomas Sumpter in district 3.
The Club also backed a Wilkinsburg Borough Council candidate, Ward 2's Pamela Macklin (Ward 2).