CARL REDWOOD CASTS VOTE (Photo by J.L. Martello)
To almost no one’s surprise, mayoral candidate state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill, won the endorsement of African-Americans voting in the Pittsburgh Black Political Convention poll.
Wheatley, is one of two African-Americans running for mayor, and was once an aide to former city Councilman Sala Udin, who organized the endorsement effort and called the result an “unqualified success.”
Speaking outside Wesley Center AMEZ Church after the vote, Wheatley said he was proud and humbled by the support, adding that if the city’s Black voters support him exclusively, they could “shake the world.”
Wheatley tallied 112 votes April 20 from five sites scattered across the city. City Councilman Bill Peduto received 72 votes and former state Auditor General Jack Wagner collected 29 votes. The other Black candidate, A.J. Richardson, received zero votes—two less than Republican Josh Wander.
In a statement released prior to both the vote and the previous night’s candidate’s forum, also organized by the Black Political Convention, Wander’s campaign said it would boycott the process because it limited who could vote.
Udin said he hopes to use the vote to leverage financial support for Wheatley, who currently trails both Peduto and Wagner in the race. African-Americans comprise about 29 percent of the city’s population, but could account for as much as 30 percent of the Democratic Primary vote.
“This was the first convention of its kind, with efforts to expand and consolidate the Black vote and to use that bloc of votes as leverage directed toward issues such as poverty, unemployment, police abuse, homicides, narcotics and gun trafficking permeating the Black community,” Udin said.
“The African-American community has been ignored by political officials and socio-economic conditions have gotten worse for Black Pittsburghers compared to the Black populations in most major metropolitan areas of the United States.”
Udin also said he was pleased with the turnout.
Though the polling sample is small, 215 votes, the results seem to support the conventional wisdom of election watchers that Wheatley would pull more support from Peduto than Wagner, who currently leads in the race.
The primary election is May 21.