Citing the "grueling demands" of his office and "significant sacrifice," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today announced that he is dropping his bid for re-election.
"After a careful and considerable amount of thought I have decided that that price has become too great to endure," Ravenstahl said, with his parents by his side. "As a result ... I'm dropping my bid for re-election. I do so without any reservation and with a clear mind."
Ravenstahl had formally launched his re-election campaign on Feb. 19.
Ravenstahl denied his decision was based on the federal investigation into mysterious police department accounts that led to the resignation of former police chief Nate Harper.
"Many will speculate about my motives and conclude that the investigation is my reason for today," Ravenstahl said. "It's not. I've done nothing wrong. That will be proven over time."
He also stressed that he wasn't worried about his prospects for re-election.
"Politics for me have never been about winning," he said. "I'm not dropping from this race because I'm worried about losing. In fact I can say I'm more confident today" then he ever has been.
Ravenstahl said he is encouraging a specific candidate to enter the race in his absence, but declined to disclose his or her identity.
Ravenstahl thanked his supporters and got choked up while talking about his staff. He did not rule out a future run for office and said he would remain in Pittsburgh.
He touted the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program as his greatest accomplishment but declined to name any regrets while in office. He vehemently denied accusations made against by former bodyguard Fred Crawford Jr., alleging the Mayor knew of fraudulent debit cards used by police officers, and forced staff to falsify time sheets.
In a statement, mayoral challenger and city councilor Bill Peduto said that he "understand[s] how difficult a decision this was and would like to extend our sincere best wishes to Luke Ravenstahl and his family. My campaign will continue to focus on taking Pittsburgh in a better direction and making the city the most livable for all of our residents.”
Fellow mayoral candidate and city controller Michael Lamb followed suit, saying, in a statement, he respects the decision. "As our city continues to face serious challenges, I hope to work with the Mayor, his Administration, and City Council for the remainder of his term toward our common goal of improving Pittsburgh and the lives of the people who call it home."
City councilor Bruce Kraus also said he supported Ravenstahl's decision and said that the city would benefit from leadership that wasn't distracted by a re-election campaign.
"There is a lot of work that takes place minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. I personally think that’s difficult to do when you are distracted on a daily, almost hourly, basis with a campaign," Kraus said. " I'm supportive of the mayor's decision. It takes a lot of courage to do it."