Thursday, November 09, 2006

Unexpected Post-Election Fallout

While everyone is talking about the losses suffered by Republicans in Tuesday's elections -- especially here in western Pennsylvania -- one local Democrat has chosen to remove himself from office, owing to his poor relations with his own party's establishment:

Allegheny County Councilman Rich Nerone resigned yesterday, citing both his growing valet parking business and disenchantment with the local political scene and the influential Wagner family.

Mr. Nerone, an Overbrook Democrat, submitted his letter of resignation just days after crossing party lines to endorse state Rep. Michael Diven, a Brookline Republican. He sent area residents a letter that arrived in mailboxes over the past weekend saying that Mr. Diven, a former Democrat, was "driven out" of that party and beset with "negative distortions" of his record.

Rich Nerone is (or was) the County Councilman for my district. To be honest, I had to go to the County web site to find this out. Nerone ran unopposed last year, so there wasn't much reason for me to invest a great deal of interest in the race. All I knew was that some Democrat had a free pass to an elective office.

In the wake of Nerone's resignation, we learn that he is not just some Democrat. He chose principle over party when he backed Mike Diven in this race. In doing so, he mended relations with Diven and followed in Diven's footsteps.

That surprised some, since Mr. Nerone ran an aggressive campaign to unseat Mr. Diven in 2004, when both were Democrats. Mr. Diven won then, but lost Tuesday to Democrat Chelsa Wagner. She's the daughter of 19th Ward Democratic Chairman Pete Wagner, and niece of state Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Mr. Nerone said yesterday that he should have been the Democratic candidate for the state House this year.

"That was my shot at that seat," he said. "I had commitments from people in the Wagner camp that I would have a shot, and then they decided to go with [Pete's] daughter."

Local politics is a real bear, isn't it? You can't trust anybody, even your supposed allies.

"There was never, ever any commitment to Rich Nerone about this race," said Pete Wagner.

Why did he back his daughter Chelsa?

"What can I say? It's father's love," he said.

This is the only dumb part of the article. Chelsa Wagner, based on her employment history, is as qualified for public office as any first-time candidate, perhaps more so. Even if she weren't qualified, I would expect her father to support her. We aren't questioning Wagner family relations, are we? Because that's how it sounds.

As for the future:
Council Democrats will pick a member of their party to take Mr. Nerone's place until May. Then voters will elect someone to serve through 2009.
You know what? If Rich Nerone's successor runs unopposed in three years, I'm going to write myself in. I'm going to tell my wife to write my name in. I know I won't win, but at least I'll be able to say that I received more than one vote, and that I had just as much support from Democrats as Republicans.

Local politics is fun!

1 comment:

jipzeecab said...

If Rich Nerone thought it was his shot to run for the seat he should have done it without the blessing of the Wagners. Far too much importance in local politics is placed on the ability of individual politicians to deliver large blocs of votes to a particular candidate.
The real truth is there is no substitute for meeting as many people individually as possible and asking for them for their vote. Of course that involves a lot of time and a lot of hard work which might not be a prospective candidate's cup of tea..
I learned last evening that one of the consequences of switching to "beta" at the moment is that you will no longer be able to comment on non beta blogger blogs...supposedly this is a non intended consequence they haven't been able to work out and they won't tell you about it until after you switch and try to comment.