Black voter turnout key in mayoral primary

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Democratic candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh, City Councilman Bill Peduto, right, walks with his communications director Sonya Toler on his way to vote in the Pennsylvania primary election on May 21.  (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic/File)

 

Conventional wisdom holds that low voter turnout favors candidates appealing to older voters because they are more reliable than young voters. All things being equal, that should have given Jack Wagner an edge in last week’s Democratic Primary for mayor of Pittsburgh.

But all things were not equal. Bill Peduto’s superior organization, honed steadily over the course of two previous mayoral campaigns, got his voters to the polls, and did so decisively in the city’s Black neighborhoods.

“Oh it was huge. We’ve managed to forge a partnership between the progressives and the Black community. If you take Jake out, and look at just me and Jack, I won Black neighborhoods. A lot of that came with support from people like Bill Robinson, Ed Gainey, Mark Brentley and Valerie McDonald Roberts,” he said.

Peduto ran first in several East End communities adjacent to his council district such as Homewood and Lincoln-Lemington, as well as in the lower North Side and Manchester, capturing as much as 80 percent of the vote in some ward districts. In the Hill District, which went heavily for state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Peduto finished second in nearly every district.

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