Friday, May 24, 2013

Q&A: Darlene Harris May Opt to Run for Mayor as Independent?

If you enjoy following Pittsburgh mayoral politics, you may find this video interesting. 12 times during our 2 minute and 41 second conversation, City Council President Darlene Harris stuck to her four word talking point about her intentions.  Here's a link to WTAE video of my Q&A with Harris about her switching her registration from Democrat to Independent in order to qualify to run for mayor in the fall race.  There are some interesting nuggets hidden KMOO #7 and KMOO #10: her pause before her answer about fundraising and her comments about Mayor Ravenstahl.

I'd reported on Wednesday about the prospect of an Independent mayoral candidate running against Democratic primary winner Bill Peduto  and Republican Josh Wander. That story includes a clip of Councilman Corey O'Connor, whose long-term political future is sometimes the subject of speculation, laughing off the idea he'd jump in to this race.  (He can't and he doesn't want to.  He remains registered a Democrat, he now backs Peduto after staying neutral during the primary, and he's getting married next month.)

Here's a transcript of my Darlene Harris Q&A. I numbered her KMOO count for handy reference.

Q: "Are you planning to run as an independent for mayor in the fall?"

A: "I am just keeping my options open." (1)

Q: "Keeping your options open means what?"

A: "Keeping my options open." (2)

Q: "Did you change your party registration, when did you do that , and explain the significance of that?"

A: "Well, there's been a lot going on in the city, and I wanted to make sure that I left all options open." (3)

Q: "Obviously, if for some reason Mayor Ravenstahl left office, you would become acting mayor. If you were acting mayor, is that the only circumstance under which you could run as an independent?"

A:  "I guess that  would be the only way that you could run as an independent."

Q: "Well, I mean you could, as council president. But *would* you, unless you became acting mayor?"

A: "All I'm doing is leaving my options open." (4)

Q: "So you don't rule out running as an independent for mayor, even  if Mayor Ravenstahl serves out his term?"

A: "Just keeping all options open." (5)

Q: "So , keeping your options open means that you're an independent, you changed your registration,  so that you may run for mayor?"

A: "Just keeping the options open." (6)

Q: "And have you collected money for a mayor's race yet?"

A: "Just keeping the options open." (7)

Q: "Raised any money?"

A:  "(2 second pause) Just keeping the options open." (8)

Q: "Have you gotten any encouragement from anyone to do this?"

A: "I just am leaving all options open." (9)

Q: "Is Mayor Ravenstahl encouraging you to do this?"

A: "Absolutely not."

Q: "Is he discouraging you?"

A: "He actually -- we have  had our times."

Q: "In his discouraging you considering this?"

A: "No. He hasn't encouraged or discouraged me. I don't think he even realizes what has happened."

Q: "By when will you make a final decision on whether or not you'll run for mayor as an independent?"

A: "Uh, time will tell."

Q: "When exactly did you change your registration?"

A: "When it was time to do so."

Q: "In other words, prior to 30 days before the primary?"

A: "Exactly."

Q: "So, you've been strategizing for a while?"

A: "Exactly."

Q: "What should Pittsburghers make of this?"

A: "To keep my options open, and we'll see in the future." (10)

Q: "So, basically this would mean that the primary wasn't the last word, so far as you're concerned,   about what the field will be in the fall."

A: "All I have said is, I've left my options open." (11)

Q: "Are  you leaving your options open, councilwoman?"

A:  "I have left my options open." (12)


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Q&A - on Mayor Ravenstahl's Mystery Candidate

A lighter atmosphere during the mystery candidate Q&A

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's somber and reflective news conference on Friday had a few lighter moments. Some came when the mayor -- in response to questions -- revealed the existence of his chosen mystery candidate.

This unnamed person is Ravenstahl's favorite to jump into the mayor's race to succeed him, now that he's dropped out.  Here are my notes of that Q&A , starting with Jon Delano's questions that suddenly brought laughter and smiles from the mayor.

Q: "Mayor, there are only two candidates, two announced candidates to succeed you --"

A: "I'm sure that will change soon."
(Reporters' laughter.)

Q: "My question is, are you encouraging others to get in this race or to look at this?"

(The mayor chuckles, pauses, then answers.)
A: "Yes. (Smiling.)
(More reporters' laughter.)

Q: "Do you have a specific candidate in mind, mayor?"

A: (Smiling) "Yes."

Q: "Obviously, that candidate has not yet announced?"

A: "Correct..."

Q: "Would you like to share with us who that candidate is?"

A: "No."
(Reporters' laughter.)

Moments later, Delano followed up.

Q: "I want to come back to this candidate you that would like to see run for mayor."

A: "Yes." (The mayor chuckles again, and takes a drink of water.)

Q: "Have you spoken to this candidate?"

(There's a pause.)
A: "No."  (The mayor smiles again.)

Q: "You have no indication whether this person wants to run for mayor or not?"

A: "Correct."

Q: "Do you intend to speak to this candidate and encourage this person to run?"

A: "Yes." (Smiling.)

Q: "And there's nothing more you're going to tell us?"

A:  "Not right now, no."

I then joined in with my own followup questions.

Q: "Just to be clear, do you envision, in a sense, a surrogate of the Ravenstahl administration to carry on the agenda of the administration and the Ravenstahl administration team? Do you think that's the best course for your people and for the city?"

A: "I'm sorry, say that again?"

Q: "Do you envision a surrogate candidate who would represent -"

A: "Oh."

Q: "-- the accomplishments of the Ravenstahl administration , your staff, your team, your vision, to represent your team in the primary?"

A: "No, I don't think so." (Now with a more serious and formal tone.)

Q: "In the general election?"

A: "No."

Q: "So when you say there's someone you envision that you could support, you don't see that person as keeping the Ravenstahl team together to do that?"

A: "Um, first of all, we're speculating, um…"

Q:  "You said yes to a series of quest --"

A: "No, no, no, I know. It's -- well, first of all, I don't know. (Laughs.) We're speculating. I don't know what that person may or may not do. You know, so."

Q: "But you have someone in mind?"

A: "I do."

Later, I asked a final followup.

Q: "Is your brother a candidate that you would like to see run for mayor?"

(Reporters' laughter. The mayor shakes head and chuckles.)
A:  "No."
(Louder reporters' laughter. The mayor's mother then jokingly chimed in with a loud "no" of her own, gesturing with her arms for added emphasis.)

Delano then added:

Q: "Sorry I opened this."

A: "No, that's okay. I kind of opened it because I answered your question."