Succeeding Dan Onorato as Allegheny County executive -- inheriting a moribund economy in a declining region, confronting a county budget teetering after years of phony fixes -- would seem unattractive to a visionary civic leader, a candidate with bold ideas and a passion to implement them.
Which probably explains how Rich Fitzgerald (left) and Mark Patrick Flaherty (right), a couple of political mechanics with stale toolboxes, have the Democratic nomination contest to themselves.
Fitzgerald and Flaherty have largely split Dan Onorato's unattractive electoral foundation. Flaherty is the List-Maker candidate; Fitzgerald has most of the better-paying unions. When it became apparent that Flaherty was the cream-skimmers' choice, many decent Democratic elected officials and committee members literally stood behind Fitzgerald, figuratively holding their noses.
Fitzgerald, Onorato's dutiful soldier (until recently; he mailed to Democratic Committee members an obvious swipe at Onorato's me-first interaction with the party), has embraced the worst aspects of Onorato's unattractive performance as county executive. Like Onorato, Fitzgerald defends inaccurate and regressive assessments to comical degree; also like Onorato, he neither identifies nor works toward a solution to the genuine problems associated with reliance on property taxes. Like Onorato, Fitzgerald was a mindless proponent of the drink tax; also like Onorato, he seems oblivious to the consequences of that poorly chosen revenue generator.
Like Onorato (and, apparently, Flaherty), Fitzgerald would be a Republican in most of the United States.
For all of Fitzgerald's faults, however, Flaherty's association with the List-Makers (or, as some call it, the Network) is a disqualifier. (See List-Makers' List, far right column)
For today's Democratic Committee endorsement vote, the Infindorsement calls for a protest vote. In a race against nearly any Republican, a sensible voter would prefer Flaherty or Fitzgerald; each is a decent man who wants to help his community in ways of which he is incapable.
But in the context of an intraparty endorsement, the sensible choice would be a write-in vote for a worthwhile Democrat, a standard neither Fitzgerald nor Flaherty meets. It appears Allegheny County will need to wait at least four more years for the leadership it strongly needs.
Infindorsement: Write-in (other than Fitzgerald or Flaherty)
Infinonytune: Running On Empty, Jackson Browne
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