Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Wanderer

Like there isn't a more perfect straight line for a joke. If only it wasn't true. Where to start with the news that per Trib: Mayoral candidate Wander sold Pittsburgh home, currently in Israel.

I mean, really? You just don't know where to start. It really is bizarre in that he claims he is still a serious candidate. Go read the linked article. Maybe this is all part of some false flag disguise? 
Reporting for duty... or not

Here is the deal. For Republicans who claim they can't get elected locally in Pittsburgh, they are probably right, but you have to think a big part of that comes from the dysfunctional candidates they run repeatedly. One candidate may be an anomaly, but look at the history.

Who are the folks Republicans have run for office in Pittsburgh. Let's start with Joe Cosetti, long time Democrat and city of Pittsburgh treasurer who first registered to run for mayor as a Democrat in 1977, but with 13 minutes before the spring filing deadline he registered as a Republican to eventually run against both popular Dick Caliguiri and Tom Foerester. I'm actually surprised Cosetti garnered the 8% he wound up with. 8%? That has to be below to the Mendoza line of politics.

In 1981 local radio star Fred Goehringer ran for mayor against the popular incumbent Richard Caliguiri.  At the time it was reported as a big victory that he was able to beat the Democratic incumbent who was being written in as well on the Republican primary ballot.

Lost to history but Tom Murphy had an opponent in the form of Kathy Matta in 1993. Kathy could not garner much support even when running for state rep in a district that then inluded the 7th ward, then and now nominally the most Republican of wards in the city. She did better than Cosetti, but not by much and lost to Tom Murphy with only 14% of the vote.

Harry Frost ran against Tom Murphy in 1997. His slight issue was that he himself had recently gone bankrupt and was living on a friend's couch while campaigning. At least he was a Republican I guess. And despite his personal problems bested Matta by a long shot with 21% of the vote.

Tom Murphy was so popular in 2001 (cough) that the Republican party had to have a rare primary to decide whether Mark Rauterkus or Jim Carmine ran against him in the fall. Problem there is neither were really Republicans before or since, both self-described Libertarians. But still, Murphy at his least popular was able to trounce Carmine who only got 23% of the vote.  But you know... there is a trend there.

Joe Weinroth, and I like Joe... the most normal guy of the pack, had the unenviable task of running against the popular Bob O'Connor in 2005 with a base in Squirrel Hill that paralleled much of O'Connor's. If he was from some other part of the city he might have not lost by so much. The even bigger issue is that he had no support at all from his own party. Virtually no money and parsimoniously few endorsements even, or especially, among Republicans. Yet, he still managed to get 27% of the vote. You have to wonder what he might have received if the Republicans in town merely acknowledged his candidacy.

Who else? Then there is Mark Desantis who ran for mayor, at least on paper in 2007. If ever there was a candidate who showed less interest, or maybe better to say less enthusiasm for running for office I can't quite place him or her. Maybe he was playing to the meme that he was drafted to run, which you have to believe since he really exuded disinterest. He really didn't file to run and was put on the ballot by write in if I recall. So he didn't even need to go through the effort of collecting petitions in the spring. Still he garnered 35% of the vote proving what I am pretty sure the baseline is for what most any Republican can count on for a candidate running a traditional campaign. I swear he left 10% on the table by just lack of interest. If he had run as an independent in that race it would have been 50-50.

Anyone else? Kevin Acklin ran in 2009. So yes, he ran as an independent, but that has to be a technicality. He was touted for a whole election cycle by Republican Party bosses as the guy to run in the fall. Only he fooled them and registered as an independent the day before petitions were due to be filed in the spring. For long party bosses like Jim Roddey would point out it was not their fault there was not a Republican in that cycle because they were planning on it being Acklin and the timing did not leave them any possibility of fielding another candidate. Based mostly on support that parallels Republican voting patterns he got 19%, still third behind the curious campaign of F. Dok Harris who came in second.

and now Wander... What a surprise, what a cliché. You have to take into account that in the spring when parties were working to line up candidates it was still expected that the incumbent would be in office and was a heavy favorite to win the Democratic party primary. Still an incumbent more vulnerable in the fall election than most Democrats have been in decades... yet the only Republican candidate to file was a guy known mostly as a suburban constable, an end-of-the-world prepper and for his hatred of all things French. Now not even deigning to stick around though the very peak of the fall electioneering season. I really thought he was an absurdist candidate before this point. Now I am left sans adjective.

The point for Republicans even if the race was futile would be to raise issues, stake a claim and build a base for the future. As is the story of the Steelers these days, the first thing you have to do to get out of a hole is to stop digging. But all you ever hear is an excuse about registration stats which I have to tell you are misleading. Plenty of Republican residents in the city of Pittsburgh register as Democratic because they know it is the only way their vote will matter given how silly the fall election is cycle after cycle.

and you really can't blame Wander himself for any of this. Remember, he was unopposed in the Republican primary. Only guy to file.  None of this is about he who is symptom of a far larger failing. It's not his fault he was the nominee. Give him some credit for jumping into the ring. This is all a story of the city and county Republican party and its apparachiki.

Come to think of it. I am upset I did not catch the real estate transaction may have lead to the story. Go read the linked story at the beginning.  It has taken weeks for anyone to even notice that he sold his only Pittsburgh residence and appears to have been out of the country for at least a little while.  Tree - woods - sound? Nobody noticed the moving van?

Let's end with the great math of the Cosetti team decades ago. Remember, he wound up with 8%.And he had at least enough money for a full page advertisement in the local papers, it was a serious campaign...


Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

His campaign song should have tipped people off:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 7:52:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

you know.. that is a better title for this post. I may have to steal the idea.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has less to do with registration and more to do with complete lack of local (Pittsburgh city residents) Republican politicians.

Look, you need SOME kind of political experience to have any credibility at all.

Even if there are successful, hard-working community leaders out there, do you honestly think they have time to run for office? Months off of work for the slim-to-none chance of election? I think not.

Bottom line: The Republican party will need to start small, work the farm system and get some viable candidates before they can even THINK of running for mayor.

Actually, the more I think of the farm system analogy, the more I like it. Go Bucs!

Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republicans hate cities. It's a strategic impulse on the part of the Republican party to leave complex urban areas to the Democrats.

Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Rich E said...

I would be glad to incorporate Shaler and Fox Chapel into the city limits. More taxes for the city, and more of a chance for the GOP.

Friday, September 27, 2013 10:14:00 AM  

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