Mayor Luke Ravenstahl isn't the first mayor to see his preferred city council candidates go down -- not so long ago, another mayor tried to help one of his friends elected to a North Side council seat and suffered the same fate.

And that's how Ravenstahl himself started his career in city government.Ravenstahl sworn in

There is a lot of crowing going on by Ravenstahl's critics after his challengers went 0/3 yesterday, but as the PG's Jon Schmitz noted, Pittsburgh's mayors have never been very good at getting their people onto council. Tom Murphy learned it in that 2003 council race, when he pushed his pal Barbara Burns only to see her lose to the upstart Ravensthal.

Council races are not referenda on a mayor's performance, but rather about distinct issues and personalities. That's especially true in the district era (council members were elected at-large until the late 1980s) but it was true before then too. Take Pat McFalls.

Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri pushed McFalls for an open city council seat in 1978. Stunningly, he lost to a newcomer named Michelle Madoff. McFalls would later go on to have a storied career as a county judge, while Madoff would spend the next 15 years battling with Caliguiri and Mayor Sophie Masloff. Madoff would eventually lose in 1993 to another upstart (Alan Hertzberg, who would also later join the bench).

The lesson? Madoff didn't lose because Mayor Sophie (in her last year in office in '93) exerted uncommon influence -- voters simply grew sick of the incumbent Madoff and replaced her. City Council is different from the mayor, though they share the same floor of the City-County Building.

The second lesson is Mayor Luke, who has now been the city's head for more than 4 years, is growing to have a lot in common with those who preceeded him in the corner office. Councils have been driving mayors crazy for decades, and somehow they figure out a way to (sort of) work together.

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