If City Councilor Bill Peduto decides to run for mayor, he may not know where to turn at first for a suitable Web site: Billpeduto.com is owned by a long-time supporter of outgoing Mayor Tom Murphy -- someone now actively backing the candidacy of ex-City Councilor Bob O'Connor -- and pedutoformayor.com was just registered by one of the core group of Ground Zero members.
"We did a lot of talking about drafting Bill," says the youth-activist group's Pat Clark, who registered his Peduto site on Dec. 7, along with runbillrun.org and runbillrun.net. "On a lark, as we were talking, I went out and registered these sites. I've got to offer them to folks" who would actually fill them, he says. (Runbillrun.com was taken by someone in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2002 but does not currently urge political office, or anything else, on anyone named William.)
Clark is certainly not impressed with his feat of Internet foresight: "I think the essence is getting off your ass and doing something ... on the Web site."
An anonymous Peduto fan is doing just that on the blog draftbill.blogspot.com, but the site, like Peduto's candidacy, remains sketchy: The anonymous author's "About Me" entry contains only the fragment: "The mounting tide of us who want a fresh face with a proven track record in the system."
The owner of billpeduto.com, local political consultant Don Friedman (who helped with Peduto's 2001 council run), says he would give the site back to Peduto but hasn't yet been asked. "I probably have some more political Web sites I own that I've forgotten," Friedman says.
"I will certainly support Bill heartily for council" again, he adds, but believes "This race is Bob O'Connor's to lose and he's not going to lose it," including likely union endorsements and the twice-defeated mayoral hopeful's ability to win the confidence of city workers and of Harrisburg. "He is a good ol' boy and it's a good-ol'-boy environment," says Friedman. "And he has the ear of the governor."
Plus, he has his own Web site already: boboconnorformayor.com, registered on Oct. 1. There weren't many sites left for O'Connor to choose from: Boboconnor.com and boboconnor.org are owned by a South China, Maine tech firm, and boboconnor.net is run by an eponymous photographer in Whitman, Mass.
The simple oconnorformayor.com was registered by William O'Connor, the brother of an Independent candidate in the April 2005 mayoral election in Berwyn, Ill., Michael O'Connor. Has it helped? "I don't think they've actually taken any polls," says William O'Connor. The secretary in the suburban Chicago office of lame-duck Mayor Thomas G. Shaughnessy just laughed -- the field there is as crowded still as Pittsburgh's, she says. The only thing apparent is that being Irish in either city doesn't hurt a bit.
For other mayoral hopefuls, the Web field is almost wide open: Councilor Sala Udin, Council President Gene Ricciardi, state Rep. Don Walko and state Rep. Dan Frankel have their pick of sites, apart from danfrankel.com, owned by a consulting firm in Europe, and genericciardi.com, owned by someone in Scenery Hill, Pa., near Washington. Perennial candidate Mark Rauterkus already owns his dot-com. Prothonotary Michael Lamb's site, lambformayor.com, was secured by his chief deputy, Eric Feder, on Dec. 7.
City Controller Tom Flaherty, another likely candidate, has the choice of anything but tomflaherty.com and tomflaherty.org. But, interestingly, every Web site with the full name of a probable mayoral candidates for Pittsburgh and "sucks" at the end is still there for the asking -- even, surprisingly, tommurphysucks.com. Perhaps Flaherty will go with that.