by Chris Potter
This space has largely remained quiet on the race for Allegheny County executive race. That will change in the days ahead, but part of the reason it's been so quiet is that your City Paper editor finds it depressing. We have two candidates -- Democrat Rich Fitzgerald and Republican D. Raja -- who are smart guys running dumbed-down campaigns. Could we have an election where the mere fact of supporting a tax increase somehow, somehwere, isn't treated as some short of shameful behavior?
Fitzgerald is blasting Raja for backing a stormwater levy in Mt. Lebanon. This despite the fact that, as Pittsburghers know all too well, stormwater runoff can be a life-or-death issue. Raja, meanwhile, is taking Fitzgerald to task for backing taxes on drinks and hotels/car rentals. Fitzgerald, echoing county executive Dan Onorato's defense of the hikes, notes that the proceeds are being used to shore up mass transit -- and that the other option was a property tax hike.
I realize this is all your typical political posturing. And that part of what's driving it is the fact that the candidates have so few differences on other substantive issues (like drilling for natural gas). But at the federal level, we're seeing a Tea Party movement that seems to embody the belief that any tax increase for any purpose -- no matter how worthy -- is ipso facto a terrible thing. These are people willing to jeopardize federal disaster aid -- hell, the federal government iself -- in the service of that cause. Be nice if a Democrat, and a guy styling himself as a more thoughtful Republican, weren't playing into that mindset.
So to move on to some other political news that makes me somewhat less depressed ...
I'm a little late in posting this, but our friends at the Gertrude Stein Political Club -- those pro-choice, pro-LGBT stalwarts -- have released their list of political endorsements for the upcoming election. At the top of fight card, Fitzgerald has earned the group's backing in the county exec race. At the city level, the group has backed council's incumbents in districts 1, 3, and 7 -- Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus, and Patrick Dowd. But in district 5 it remains skeptical of Corey O'Connor (the group backed his challenger, Chris Zurawsky, in the primary). Nor has it backed District 9 incumbent Ricky Burgess, for reasons that are probably obvious.
If, like everyone else, you're having difficulty deciding what to do in judicial races, be advised that the club is backing Common Pleas judicial candidates Alex Bicket and Mike Marmo. As for state level judicial contests, it is backing Democrats Kathryn Boockvar for Commonwealth Court, and David Wecht for Superior Court.
And in other endorsement news, it's never too soon to start looking ahead to 2012. I guess.
A couple months back, I noted that there was some buzz about Dan Onorato's potential interest in running for Auditor General -- a position that will become vacant after 2012 because incumbent Jack Wagner is term-limited.
That's still a possibility, but political insiders I talk to say that if Onorato is interested, he needs to get a move on. Because while the primary isn't until next spring, state Rep. Eugene DePasquale of York is already campaigning hard.
This morning, in fact, DePasquale's campaign released a list of 40 political endorsements from around the state. Many of them are county committee chairs and the like from far-flung locales, but a handful come from Onorato's backyard. Among them:
Some of these names aren't surprising. Gainey, for example, was in attendance at a DePasquale gathering held at AVA this July. Still, it'll be interesting to see how wide a net he is able to cast.
The AVA gathering itself was notable for the diversity of folks it drew. DePasquale is running as reformer, which appeals to good-government types anxious to renew the political culture. But he's also got roots in that culture: His grandfather was longtime Pittsburgh City Councilor Jeep DePasquale. So perhaps it's not surprising that he drew a crowd ranging from Lawrenceville community fixture Ronnie Deutsch to city council progressive standard-bearer Bill Peduto.
So it's an interesting coalition taking shape here. I mean, I can't remember the last time I saw Peduto and Tonya Payne agreeing on anything.