Allegheny County Labor Council Endorses Patrick Connelly for Judge

Peduto clears difficult hurdle by winning county labor endorsement

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s re-election bid has cleared another hurdle, having secured the endorsement of the Allegheny County Labor Council late last week.

In a statement, Mr. Peduto hailed the result as “a testament to the hard work that we have done for working families over the past few years.”

The council, which includes representatives from the area’s major unions, interviewed candidates Friday. Candidates must earn a two-thirds majority to secure labor’s backing.

Candidates in some other competitive races were unable to clear that bar.

In City Council District 4, the Labor Council made no endorsement in a heated primary between Anthony Coghill and Ashleigh Deemer. The same was true in Allegheny County Council District 12, where Jim Ellenbogen faces a challenge from Robert Palmosina.

Getting the endorsement is “difficult especially in a contested race, where the candidates may all have supporters in the room,” said Labor Council executive vice-president Darrin Kelly.

Mr. Peduto’s rivals, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Homewood minister John Welch, downplayed his win.

On Monday, Mrs. Harris attributed the outcome to Mr. Peduto’s fundraising advantages. But she said, “I’m very confident where the union votes will go” on the May 16 primary.

At a Saturday campaign event, Rev. Welch said, “We operate in a spirit of fear in this city. They’re afraid not to [back] the incumbent.”

Labor leaders also backed incumbent Sheriff Bill Mullen over challenger George Satler, while endorsing Patrick Connelly and David Spurgeon for Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Peduto has been consolidating support from traditional Democratic power bases. The Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed him earlier this month. Neither it nor the labor council backed his 2013 election (he did not seek the party endorsement in 2013).

The council also recommended statewide judicial candidates for endorsement by the state’s AFL-CIO.

For state Supreme Court, it backed the lone Democrat, Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Dwayne Woodruff. For the four seats on Superior Court, it supported Allegheny County attorney Bill Caye, Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Debbie Kunselman, Philadelphia County Common Pleas Judge Maria McLaughlin, and Geoff Moulton, who is serving on the court in an interim capacity.

For Commonwealth Court, local labor leaders recommended Philadelphia County Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler and currently serving Judge Joe Cosgrove.

Chris Potter: cpotter@post-gazette.com.