Competition, in the words of Andrew Carnegie, "is best for the race," a sentiment that should ring true for Pittsburgh Democrats now that two candidates say they will enter the primary race against Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
Mr. Ravenstahl, 29, who after briefly serving as City Council president was elevated to mayor due to the death of Bob O'Connor, went without a challenger in the primary two years ago and defeated Republican Mark DeSantis in the general election.
For a time, it seemed Mr. Ravenstahl's incumbency, the lack of a highly divisive local issue and his $1 million campaign fund weighed so heavily in his favor that serious challengers would be chased off.
Little-known Hill District attorney Carmen L. Robinson, 40, announced earlier that she was running, but the stakes were raised last week when City Councilman Patrick Dowd jumped in, too.
Mr. Dowd, 40, of Highland Park, has taken on incumbents and defeated them twice -- in 2003 to win a seat on the city school board and, four years later, for a place on City Council.
The election is 12 weeks away and both Mr. Dowd and Ms. Robinson don't have much time -- or much money -- to introduce themselves to voters citywide.
Important issues facing Pittsburgh deserve public discussion -- population loss, development, campaign finance limits and open government, to name a few. All three candidates for the Democratic mayoral nomination -- which in Pittsburgh has been tantamount to election, given the party's 5-to-1 registration advantage -- have a duty to articulate their views so voters can assess them.
Let the race begin.
First published on February 22, 2009