Friday, October 13, 2006

a de facto runoff?

So it seems there is a decision of sorts for when the next mayors race will be. While it's possible this will be the last word, it's hard not to see how this might end up in court. I think anyone who is a resident of Pittsburgh has standing to sue to try and stop there from being an election in 2007. Actually, I suspect any taxpayer has standing in this case because tax dollars are spent to hold the election. A funny question: but with the new payroll preparation tax extended to all city workers regardless of residence, I wonder if that means a lot of non-city residents could sue in this case? If that happens, even if the suit eventually loses, it will further add to the chaos that is going to be the next election. The potential number of people running is getting larger every day and the compacted schedule is going to make it... (fill in adjective of choice). but I also am not sure this is all set in stone anyway. There now exist two completely divergent extant legal opinions and even more issues that a court would have to sort through. A legal process will also dampen fundraising in a cycle that will be short and diluted across a number of candidates to begin with.

Assuming there is an election and if you were to ask me at this moment... I would not be surprised if one major candidate tried to take the Caliguiri (Sr. that is) route and skip the primary to run in the general as an independent. If its a super wide open field then it's likely that the primary winner is not going to come out with a broad mandate. Thus one could plan to paint that winner as more an aberration than as the legitimate Democratic nominee. It would take a leading candidate out of the free for all that will be the primary and give time to prepare (i.e. raise money) for a fall race with the time needed for a major election. It almost makes the primary a no-win situation if the most one could hope for is a small plurality in the end.

Do I think this scenario is good for the city? not really. The potential for extended uncertainty in the city is just not good all around.

Anyway. Again no maps today, but I will try and post some maps of the results from the last few mayoral races... I suspect the past results may not be as relevant as they normally would be given the strange circumstances coming up.. but they still are interesting.


Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I think the city can cope with a few more months of uncertainty should the scenario you describe materialize. Yes, these are unusual times, because of Bob O'Connor's death, but if the city had two viable parties--a fantasy, I realize--than what you describe would be the norm in every election: the mayor not selected until the general election in November.

Saturday, October 14, 2006 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

for anyone who thinks that just blindly switching party dominance leads to good things I have one tought: Larry Dunn.

To blame party dominance for the city's woes presumes some party line voting on issues which would be hard to discern from a lot that happens on city council. In the past, I could maybe see the argument.. maybe. in fact, I would argue that the factional fighting on city council is a lot higher than it would be if there was a sitting Republican opposition on council. Then there would be clear democratic party line voting that would always prevail without much in the way of debate.

I would go farther and say that it has been the breakdown of Democratic party dominance that has hurt the city. David Lawrence was by very definition the leader of a powerful and one-party political machine. Yet he will go down in history for his cooperation with some very strident Republicans. Hard for a leader to do anything like that these days without being pilloried NOT because people are more partisan these days, but because there is no party machine to provide cover and not make any such overtures tantamount to political suicide.

but it does raise an interesting question. What city council district is the most 'Republican'? the answer is usually gotten completely wrong by pundits when it is rarely discussed.

Saturday, October 14, 2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I don't necessarily disagree with your analysis, although I do think that on balance the city would be better of with two viable parties. I think the county benefited from its brief experience with two-party rule under Jim Roddey. And I have to say that my least favorite Republican commissioner back in the day was Bob Cranmer, not Larry Dunn.

However, my point was merely that I think the city could manage to not have the outcome of the November mayoral election pre-ordained. And to think otherwise may indeed be a sign that, all evidence to the contrary, we have lived too long with a lone party, however fractious it may be in reality.

Saturday, October 14, 2006 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Chris -- Since you posed the question, I'm going to take a guess without looking at the numbers. The most "Republican" district is probably Peduto's. I'm guessing this solely because it is the most affluent.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 8:52:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Maybe I'm trying to outsmart myself, but you seem to drop a hint that it is not Peduto's district. I think John's logic is correct except that wealth is not quite the barometer for party affiliation that it once was. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that Elsie Hillman is more indicative of the Shadyside uber-rich than, say, Dick Scaife. She is a centrist Republican in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller, and so I'm guessing that her younger counterparts might be just as likely to be Democrats. Also, I'm thinking that Peduto's districtd has more than a few university professors and left-leaning Bobos. (Yes, I hate myself for typing that word.)

My uneducated guess is either district 4 or district 5. These are districts where you are likely to find large white, working-class enclaves that I think might tend to be more socially conservative than neighborhoods in district 8, which Peduto represents. (District 5 does include Squirrel Hill but also stretches down into Lincoln Place.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I should be clear my metric I suppose. I do not really care about registration per se but actual voting. So I take the last presidential general election to measure this. The percentage for Bush/Cheney in 04 by CC district in was:

1 31.6%
2 33.7%
3 24.7%
4 37.1%
5 26.4%
6 13.3%
7 23.7%
8 22.7%
9 8.3%

Which shows that Dist 8 is actually one of the least 'Republican' in this sense. Pundits are always sure that 8 is the most likely to ever elect a republican to CC. I suppose that could be true in a CC council race but it still hard to see how it could be considered the most Republican given that is is just about the least likely to have voted for Bush: 3nd least percentage behind the 6th and 9th council districts.. which makes it the absolute least likely to have voted for Bush other than the majority-minority districts.

If you look across the county, the correlation between income and party is quite strong but the exceptions are a few city neighborhoods such as Shadyside and SH.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Motznik's district is most conservative. No surprise there.

BTW, the county Dem committee tried to have a bylaws convention last Saturday. Bylaws haven't been revised in 24 or so years, and there's a new party chair, Jim Burn. The bylaws committee met four or five times, drafted a new document heavy on sanctions for those committee members who fail to support endorsed candidates. Only problem, nobody showed up for the convention. 400 (out of a possible 2,600) makes a quorum. Just over 200 turned out. Back to the drawing board. Next stab will be 2008, with promise of considering open primaries.

One proposed sanction was that a Dem who ran without the party endorsement would be barred from seeking future endorsements. Only problem is, that covers about every top pol in city and county--O'Connor, Onorato, Peduto, Fitzgerald and others have run at one time or another without the party's blessing.

So like I said, back to the drawing board.

Monday, October 16, 2006 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Running as an independent in the fall could be a strategy if the will of the electorate is shifting.

O'Connor fulfilled a real need for a more consensus, down-home kind of leadership, for those who were tired of the combative approach to institutional change being pursued by Murphy. But rather than 4 years of being in the comfort zone, the city got 9 months. So it's a different situation now than when Caliguiri died. The political establishment isn't that strong, nor are there any particularly strong change agendas on the horizon. There wasn't perceived to be a market for "the vision thing" in the last election, so none came forward.

The question is whether or not now is the time to really step out with a significant change agenda?

Monday, October 16, 2006 1:07:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

conservative is still relative in this sense. 37% is still a margin of 25 percentage points. and that was for a district that is over 95% white (by far highest in city) which makes it that even more of a feat.

I think the primary skipping strategy could make sense in a purely tactical point of view.. so I am not saying anything about what the electorate wants. but I suspect it would be easier to pull than when Caliguiri did it because the party structure is arguably weaker. I am not old enough to remember whether he marketed himself as some sort of independent or more as a Democrat forced into the exigency by circumstances back then.

I mean think about it.. if you get all the people running who people think will throw their names in the hat. There is only so much media to go around. Most venues will have only limited time per candidate. I bet many venues will have a hard time fitting them all on stage. I am picturing a lot of scenes where someone exhorts "I paid for this microphone"

Monday, October 16, 2006 4:01:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Back on the "which district is most Republican" tangent: I agree that performance says more than registration, but wouldn't performance in state or local elections be more telling than the presidential election in this case?

The Onorato/Roddey split might be a good bellwether, or better yet the Wecht/Roddey split, since in that case both candidates were from Squirrel Hill and you wouldn't see neighborhood loyalties skewing the results. The problem is that that was seven years ago, though.

Monday, October 16, 2006 5:12:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I dunno... wouldn't a local race always be imbued with individual baggage on all sides that takes you away from core ideology? some otherwise nondescript state row office may indeed be a decent metric.

anyway.. I could probably map the wecht roddey results, not sure I have it by council district. But for Roddey/Onorato here are the results in terms of %Roddey by (note: current) city council districts:

1 23.3%
2 30.6%
3 25.9%
4 29.5%
5 30.4%
6 23.8%
7 28.1%
8 42.9%
9 21.0%

but in this case I guess 8 could in fact be the 'most' republican….but even in this case it was a double digit lead for a fellow who was the incumbent and had some Shadyside specific support... and JR probably matches the Republican moderate that is becoming less and less reflective of ‘Republican’ as JP alludes to. Maybe the difference between the two sets of results gives you a measure of that moderate republican block? Would that mean the answer is different whether you ask which district is more 'republican' or which is more 'conservative'?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 7:31:00 AM  

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