Friday, May 22, 2009

Tale of Two Cities

What are the lessons learned from Tuesday's primary:

1. Money + endorsement = victory
2. There is the East End and the rest of the city
3. Post Gazette endorsements don't mean a lot to the voters
4. Bar Association Ratings don't mean a lot to voters

Luke had lot's of money and the Party machine working for him and he rolled to an easy victory. Dowd got good press, the Post-Gazette endorsement and it didn't matter. Robinson also got a lot of good publicity but combined, Dowd and Robinson couldn't come close to Luke.

In the Judicial race one candidate had the grand slam: Bar Association highest recommendation, the Democratic endorsement, Post-Gazette endorsement and money/tv ads. That was Joe Williams who led the Democratic ticket. Don Walko was second. He had the Party endorsement and a lot of name recognition from his time in state politics. He did not get a good recommendation from the bar association as he has limited experience practicing law. He also didn't seem to spend nearly as much as other candidates on ads. Susan Evashavik Dilucente had the Party endorsement, a good but not excellent recommendation from the bar, the Post-Gazette endorsement and she spent a lot of money on ads. She came in just a hair behind Walko.

The fourth slot was the only one that went to an unendorsed candidate, Phil Ignelzi. He was highly recommended by the bar, endorsed by both papers and spent the most money. That money bought him a lot of votes. Two other candidates who were unendorsed were highly recommended by the Bar and endorsed by the paper, Alex Bicket and Hugh McGough. Ignelzi outpaced Bicket by 11,000 votes and McGough by 20,000. Bicket had ads on TV, but did not spend nearly as much as Ignelzi. McGough focused on a grass roots campaign and did not spend money on TV advertising.

The fifth slot went to Klein who was endorsed by the party, but did not garner a Highly Recommended rating and did not get the Post-Gazette endorsement. He was only about 1000 votes behind Ignelzi and 10,000 votes ahead of the 6th place finisher, Bicket. Bicket did get the Republican nomination so we will see if the endorsement from the paper and a Highly Recommended rating along with TV ads and a high profile spokesperson: Rocky Bleier can be enough to win in the Fall. It makes sense that he could pick up the McGough voters as he will not be running in the fall. If so he would have enough support to win one of the five seats. On the other hand, it stands to reason that Klein may get some of the Marmo votes, as Marmo was the only endorsed candidate to lose. Marmo finished in seventh place, about 2000 votes behind Bicket.

Although I have not studied the East End numbers, my sense is that Dowd beat Ravenstahl in 14 and 7. McGough also had very strong support in this part of the city. The 14th Ward is the most populated and generally has the best voter turnout, but this election is a reminder that popularity in this monied area of the city alone is not enough to win, or even come close, in a city or county wide election. Voters in these areas have a totally different philosophy than other sections of the city. Perhaps we are seeing a small shift with the more progressive City Council candidates winning in the Hill and the South Hills, but this didn't make a dent in the mayoral race.

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