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Pittsburgh Mayor Won't Seek Reelection

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced he would not run for reelection at a press conference March 1. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

photo of Steven Shepard
March 1, 2013

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced Friday we won't seek reelection this year, setting up a competitive Democratic primary to replace him this May.

"I'm dropping my bid for reelection," Ravenstahl said at a press conference at Pittsburgh City-County Building.

Ravenstahl, a Democrat, denied that his decision was motivated by a brewing scandal concerning the Pittsburgh Police Bureau and the resignation of Police Chief Nate Harper.

Instead, Ravenstahl said the job of mayor, which he has held since the death of then-Mayor Bob O'Connor in 2006, had taken too large a toll on his family life. He said he was confident, if he had decided to run again, he would win.

"I'm not dropping from this race because I'm worried about losing," said Ravenstahl.

Ravenstahl, 33, became the youngest mayor in Steel City history, taking office at the age of 26. He quoted from former Steelers coach Bill Cowher's 2007 retirement speech, saying, "Just like Bill Cowher, I have been extremely blessed."

Ravenstahl's exit creates a void in the May 21 Democratic primary. City Councilor Bill Peduto and city Controller Michael Lamb are already in the race, but prospective candidates have until March 12 to circulate and file petitions to run.

At such a young age, Ravenstahl could decide to resume his political career at a later date. He started February with almost $749,000 cash on hand, well more than both Lamb and Peduto combined.

While Ravenstahl and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter are the two biggest names in Pennsylvania at the local level, the state party still has a deep bench entering the gubernatorial race in 2014 and Senate race in 2016, both of which feature GOP incumbents.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz is among those gearing up for a run against GOP Gov. Tom Corbett next year. Two years later, the state's newly elected attorney general, Kathleen Kane can expect to receive calls from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as freshman Sen. Pat Toomey presumably stands for reelection.

Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in Pennsylvania, and some former mayors have attempted to use the office as a springboard for higher office. Pete Flaherty nearly beat then-Republican Arlen Specter in a 1980 Senate race, after losing to Sen. Richard Schweiker in 1974. He also lost the open-seat governor's race in 1978 to Republican Dick Thornburgh.

David Lawrence is the only mayor ever to serve as governor, winning a statewide election in 1958.

Dan Roem contributed to this post.

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