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Politics: Online site pushing Chelsa Wagner for mayor 

Now that Bill Peduto has announced he won't challenge Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's re-election bid next year, many are wondering who will.

On June 7, an anonymous blogger launched his or her own effort to recruit a candidate: state Rep. Chelsa Wagner.

"Draft Chelsa 2009" (draftchelsa2009.blogspot.com) proclaims that it is "dedicated to building a grassroots movement to draft State Representative Chelsa Wagner for Mayor."

Wagner, a Beechview Democrat, has seen the blog but says it came as a surprise. The first word she got of it, she says, came when a reporter told her that an e-mail supposedly authored by "Chelsa Wagner" was circulating a link to the blog.

The anonymous blogger claims "[Chelsa] is the only potential candidate" to take on the Ravenstahl administration in the next election. The blogger adds that Wagner is the only one who could appeal to the politically underrepresented groups of "women, African Americans, working class and young voters."

The blog contained no method of contacting the site's creator.

Wagner says that while she is "very flattered" by the attention, she has no immediate plans to run for mayor.

"My house seat is a two-year term so I just got beyond the primary election," Wagner says. "I'm focused on the immediate goal of getting re-elected."

Conservative politico Bill Green, of William J. Green and Associates, says "immediate" is the operative word.

"The time to ask her is probably the day after that [November] election," Green says.

"Ravenstahl has incumbency, money and recognition but he also has a list of foibles," adds Green. "If Luke is against one other person he's vulnerable, but if he's against two, he's the winner."

Still, Green says the other names being tossed around -- David Caliguiri (son of the late mayor), city councilor Patrick Dowd and city controller Michael Lamb -- are unlikely to even enter.

Wagner would have some built-in advantages as a candidate. Her family's name carries considerable clout, especially in the city's southern neighborhoods. Her uncle, Jack Wagner, is Pennsylvania's auditor general and a possible future gubernatorial candidate. Her aunt, Eileen Wagner, is Allegheny County's register of wills, and her father, Pete Wagner, chairs the Democratic Party's 19th Ward committee

Wagner also has ties to various progressive groups who have lined up against Ravenstahl in the past. She campaigned for the House of Representatives with the assistance of Run Baby Run, a reform effort dedicated to electing more women to government. Wagner says her plans include continuing to work on Barack Obama's presidential campaign and to get more women elected to the House.

As for the "Draft Chelsa" movement, the blogger may have given up -- the last update was on June 9. However, others in the blogosphere have already been giving thought to a Wagner candidacy. Progress Pittsburgh (www.progresspittsburgh.net) has an Internet poll asking readers to pick between Ravensathl and Wagner. As of June 23, Wagner led by a three-to-one margin among 82 votes cast.

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