Leturgey Musings and Goings On

These are some of my writings...from events going on in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance and elsewhere, to observations from the rest of my decidely unformulaic life.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

DeSantis on Ballot: The Next Jason Altmire?

It was reported today that Mark DeSantis, a last-minute write-in Republican candidate for Mayor, received far more votes than needed for the November ballot.

DeSantis reminds me of another little-known candidate who was tapped for potential greatness: freshman Congressman Jason Altmire (D-North Hills). Altmire was swept into office over one-time political juggernaut Melissa Hart.

Hart was seemingly tapped by the GOP kingmakers a few years ago. Instead, she was derailed by a candidate few people knew of months before the General Election. Could the same happen for DeSantis, if there's a definitive "Anti-Luke" sentiment that comes about sometime in this summer?

The position of "Independent Candidate who could draw Money" was originally earmarked for Bill Peduto; however, he apparently decided that sitting on the sideline for the next decade with Ravenstahl won't be that bad. Peduto would only be 52 when Ravenstahl moves onto a bigger statewide or Congressional post, and that's plenty of time to run the city his way.

There might be "niche" candidates like Mark Rauterkus, but only DeSantis will be in a position to raise funds. Don't go crazy now, I don't expect it.

That being noted, DeSantis has been described in some circles as "left of Ravenstahl." With incredibly strong ties to the unions, Luke is a typical city of Pittsburgh politician. That's not to be confused with Dan Onorato, who beat Jim Roddey by truly being fiscally more conservative than the first ACE. Surely, Onorato is tied into the unions as well, but he doesn't HAVE to be as tied to the hip to the region's most influential Special Interest Group. He can cater to the North Hills conservatives and the few that still remain in Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon.

Onorato has done a pretty fair job; Roddey speaks highly of him and the Allegheny County Republican Committee, rudderless for what appears to be an eternity now (Rich Stampahar was the last who initiated any kind of forward movement whatsoever), failed to provide even a viable write-in candidate. With Roddey now well into his 70's and a suburbanite, the city wasn't going to post a worthy candidate. I didn't even want to try it for kicks and giggles.

Ravenstahl is not without his political skeletons. He just hasn't made enough powerful enemies to derail his ambitions. A friend told me Luke's approval rating rivaled that of Reagan in the salad days.

However, Luke might be getting a little too cocky. He's started to snipe with City Council President Doug Shields over silly stuff. And City Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle's investigation/court case may still make an occasional headline this summer. IF I have my time line right, Ravenstahl was city council president when Carlisle was bankrolling her mother's boyfriend for plagiarised white papers.

What if something else embarrassing happens this summer. Power brokers won't nudge Ravenstahl aside and hand over the reigns to Shields, who was former Mayor Bob O'Connor's right hand man forever. The two apparently don't always get along.

Ravenstahl is a young man with a pretty wife and no children. What if he gets out of hand again like he did at the Steelers game a few years ago? There is the Casino flap looming like a dark cloud over the hillside (something tells me that Smokey Robinson might want to hold off putting a down payment on a downtown condo, he may not be Don Barden's headliner as soon as expected). What if Luke falls into the Mon after a night of checking out the South Side nightlife (on official business mind you)? WPXI's fabulous Katrina Owens might be able to narrate as Jeff Koch's buddies pulls Luke from the muck.

DeSantis could be the next Jason Altmire: a decent guy with no real credentials for the position. But the voters became sick of Melissa Hart's imposing height and linebacker shoulders and kicked her to the curb. If Ravenstahl stumbles, the same could conceivably happen.

If DeSantis starts to show up in the newspapers and on television, watch his donations. Do I expect him to be a player? No, not really. The classy Joe Weinroth was superior in the debates last time around and very few people gave him the time of day or dollars from their wallet.

Luke Ravenstahl won't be as dangerous to our fair city as Tom Murphy was for three terms. Murphy almost single handily destroyed Pittsburgh's 90 communities by looking only at the bells and whistles of Fifth and Forbes.

But if something unforeseen happens this summer, Mark DeSantis may just be the next Jason Altimire. But don't bet on it.



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