A Tough Day for the Wagners | Slag Heap
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Tough Day for the Wagners

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 1:59 PM

It's no secret that state Auditor Jack Wagner lost his gubernatorial bid yesterday, but there were some other setbacks for the Wagner family as well -- and these hit closer to home. 

As I reported two months ago, the Wagner's stomping grounds in the city's 19th Ward has been the site of an easily-overlooked uprising this year. Anthony Coghill, a former Wagner ally who was jilted by the family during a failed run for city council last year, drafted a slate of candidates to run for spots on the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. There are a total of 76 committee slots in Ward -- 38 men and 38 women -- and nearly two-thirds were competitive. 

So ... who won the battle?

For starters, Coghill's own bid to represnt district 22 was successful. "It's the first race I've won!" he says, wryly. His former campaign manager, Lisa Orlando, also won, beating Erin Molchany, the head of the civic-engagement group PUMP, in district 6. 

But Coghill's sights are set on Pete Wagner, brother of Jack and longtime chair of the 19th ward. It's not clear Coghill has toppled his nemesis -- he'd need the votes of more than half of the committee people to supplant Wagner as ward chair. But there's no question Coghill has drawn blood.

On the one hand, Pete Wagner's son, also named Pete, lost in district 12. Pete the Elder's wife, Judy, also lost her post representing the female post in that district. Not every challenger was successful: Jack Wagner's wife, Nancy, barely held onto her spot in district 21 -- winning by just 4 votes. And in any case, not every committeeperson has declared an allegience to any ward chair. But in all, Coghill says, "I only need a couple loose votes, and the momentum is going our way."

I'll have more on this as things develop.

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