Doug Shields campaigning

We're a still a little bleary from last night, but what else is new -- here's a completely subjective look at winners and losers from yesterday's primary:


Jim Burn/Jim Roddey --Stakes were high for the leaders of the county's Democratic and Republican parties. If Rich Fitzgerald, Chelsa Wagner and others didn't win with the benefit of the party machinery, on a day with lousy turnout, what good would the Dem committee endorsement really promise. Instead, committee's entire main slate (outside the city council candidates tied to Luke Ravenstahl) won. On the GOP side both of the countywide candidates Roddey supported, Raja and Heather Heidelbaugh, won and he (almost) averted the specter of Chuck McCullough on the ballot. (More on that later.)

Mark Harris/Mike Mikus -- The leaders of the campaign teams for Raja and Fitzgerald, respectively, ran high-energy, professional-grade campaigns that stayed on course during rough tmes (especially in the Dem race). Harris could have faced heavy second-guessing for not going negative on McCullough's pending fraud trial; instead the campaign ignored it entirely and came out smelling like a rose. Mikus and his team faced a political class that thought Mark Patrick Flaherty had the nomination wrapped up through much of the spring, and a last-second bombshell on Fitzgerald's email to Marcellus Shale developers (which Flaherty used to target Mikus, too). Both teams following through with huge wins Tuesday.

Darlene Harris/Patrick Dowd -- It seems like these Pittsburgh City Council members have been around for ever, but they haven't -- Dowd burst onto the scene only in 2003 by knocking Harris off the city school board, and yesterday was the first time either of them won reelection to a full term on the city body. Harris beat back a full Ravenstahl assault in his former council district (upon ground in which his brother Adam won in a state House race last year), and Dowd used a team including the city firefighter's union (his district has a large public safety contingent, especially in Stanton Heights/Morningside) to beat the son of Lawrenceville's popular district judge.


Mark Patrick Flaherty -- If you met Flaherty out at one of his events, you likely shook hands with a nice, soft-spoken guy who indeed has deep roots in Allegheny County government. But the derisive shorthand for the Fitzgerald-v-Flaherty race ("Crazy versus Lazy") happened for a reason -- on Flaherty's side (see the Marcellus mail for a Fitz explainer) he could be incoherent and bumbling on the stump, including the times he struggled to defend his natural gas development plans. This site repeatedly chronicled his repeated screwups on something as simple as a campaign website. It all added up to an 11-point loss in the executive race.

Polls -- Early this month the Flaherty camp shared a poll memo from Garin-Hart-Yang Research showing the candidate with an 18-point (46-28%) lead over Fizgerald. Said the memo, "The results of our tracking survey among Democratic primary voters conducted last Tuesday and Wednesday confirm that Mark Patrick Flaherty continues to hold a solid lead and remains strongly positioned to win the May 17 Democratic primary."

Luke Ravenstahl/The Network -- Everybody knows by now how all the mayoral-supported challengers to Harris/Dowd/Bruce Kraus lost. And the money thrown at the challengers by the members of the Verbanac/Lieberman/Zappala "Network" went down the commode. Additionally, the council incumbent the mayor's team supported, Ricky Burgess, fell short of getting 50% yesterday (though against two challengers). His pick for the city school board, Dara Ware Allen, also lost. We plan to have more on the mayoral coattails stuff later -- and the news might not be as bad for the mayoral troops as you'd think.

Doug Shields -- The Shields brand thrives on conflict. From his years working for Bob O'Connor when he was Tom Murphy's bitter rival, to taking on the Ravenstahl administration and then the mighty natural gas industry, Shields was always fighting. That included his DJ race, where he attacked well-thought-of attorney Hugh McGough and it backfired on the PG letters page and the election. We haven't yet talked to the former council prez, but we're told he's disconsolate.

Marcellus Shale Coalition -- Better get used to a whole lot of Irish anger, not to mention crazy 5 am emails/phone calls, people. The dirty secret of the executive race was all four candidates supported shale exploration, but somebody in the industry took a major gamble when they leaked Fitzgerald's email to the Flaherty campaign and then the press. Not that any Pittsburgh Democrat can do all that much to halt development of the resource, but why make that enemy?


This is the place dominated by Chuck McCullough, who while losing the GOP exec nomination yesterday, seems poised to benefit from an 11th hour write-in bid for District Attorney. Will he take it? We don't know. We won't even know what names were written in until next week. We do imagine this is the last thing Roddey wanted to deal with, with a slate of other candidates in the exec, treasurer and controller races, and the fact that grassroots/tea party types in the party pushed the DA bid as a "protest" in the election.

Photo: Marty Childs of Squirrel Hill listens to Councilman Doug Shields as he campaigns at the Colfax Elementary School. Behind Mr. Shields is his wife Bridgette. Hugh McGough defeated him for the district judge seat in the city's East End. Darrell Sapp/PG

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