News out of the 20th state rep race | Slag Heap
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Monday, April 19, 2010

News out of the 20th state rep race

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 12:19 PM

I've written previously about the complicated (read "disastrous if your last name isn't 'Ravenstahl'") dynamics taking place in the 20th legislative district race, which is a combined special-and-primary contest to replace now-judge Don Walko. The presumed front-runner is Adam Ravenstahl, the mayor's brother and the endorsed Democrat in the race. But his biggest advantage may be the fact that he faces a divided field of opponents. 

And things just keep percolating over there. A short time ago, the Service Employees International Union announced its endorsement of Dan Keller. Per the release:

"We're proud to get behind a strong candidate like Daniel Keller," said Gabe Morgan, SEIU Pennsylvania State Council President. "We need people like Dan to raise the voices and concerns of working people to Harrisburg."

Keller has gotten the support of numerous union groups, but this one has to sting a bit for at least one of his rivals. When candidate Tim Tuinstra launched his campaign last month, he did so with an announcement touting his work with Pittsburgh United -- a community-advocacy group that is heavily supported by the SEIU:

As President of Observatory Hill Inc. Tuinstra helped start a neighborhood watch and has worked with Northside United and Pittsburgh United to help ensure Northshore development provided benefits to the greater Northside community.

I've got calls in to the SEIU and the Tuinstra campaign to see what's up with this endorsement. And I'll post updates here.

(UPDATE: In response to my query, an SEIU spokesperson told me the union is backing Keller not just because he supports its values, but because he has "broad support from labor and the community, where he is already well-known." Translation: The union thinks Keller has a better shot of actually winning.)

(UPDATE #2: As if to further muddy the waters, the Tuinstra campaign tells me that Tuinstra has been endorsed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23. The UFCW and the SEIU have worked closely together on the city's prevailing wage bill and other matters. Once again, we see how the opposition is dividing itself.) 

In the meantime, there's this from another candidate in the race:

Mark Purcell, candidate for State Representative in the 20th legislative district of Pittsburgh has been asking any interested parties, including the media, and citizens he talks to as he goes door-to-door with his campaign to, “Take a walk with me to Harrisburg.”

Purcell said he made this commitment for two reasons. First and most importantly he wants to carry a message to his colleagues in the state house that, “The legislature has lost the confidence and trust of Pennsylvania citizens and its ability to properly represent them.”

As a freshman legislator the first official act after you are sworn in is to make a short speech before the entire legislative body Purcell said.”  He wants to deliver the message to the legislature that at 64 years of age, (as of August 31, 2010,) he has walked the entire 210 miles from his home in Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, to underline the seriousness of his request to allow the citizens of Pennsylvania to put into action these words in our Pennsylvania constitution.

Specificially, Purcell wants to put a referendum before state voters, so they can decide whether Harrisburg should hold a Constitutional Convention dedicated to government reform. 

Well, good luck with that. I have to say, though, that right now it looks like the only person doing much walking -- cake-walking, to be more precise -- is Adam Ravenstahl.

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