Updated, 10:45 a.m. Wednesday
Even combined, Darlene Harris and John Welch needed thousands more votes to beat incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto, allowing him to heartily win Tuesday’s Democratic primary race.
As results came in this evening, Peduto — who spent more than $603,000 on his primary campaign — stayed strong with more than 65 percent of the vote. For the second primary in a row, Peduto received more votes than his rivals, combined.
Peduto on Tuesday received 27,010 votes (69 percent) over adversary Harris’ 5,203 votes (13 percent) and former supporter Welch’s 6,832 votes (17.5 percent), with 100 percent of precincts reporting, per unofficial results Wednesday morning, including absentee ballots from Allegheny County. No Republican candidates ran in the primary. The general election is Nov. 7.
In 2013, Peduto won the Democratic primary with 51.81 percent of the vote — more votes (23,650) than his three rivals combined. Peduto won the general election that year with 37,006 votes — 84.3 percent of the total.
2017 Democratic primary for Pittsburgh Mayor
2013 Democratic primary for Pittsburgh Mayor
Peduto arrived just after 10 p.m. Tuesday to his campaign party at The Boiler Room in Banksville to an introduction from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and chants of “four more years.”
He later told reporters that his campaign knew that he needed at least 50 percent of the vote to win in the three-way primary and set a goal around 60 percent. As results rolled in Tuesday evening, Peduto never dipped below that goal.
As Peduto ran through his list of thank yous, he included Harris and Welch, saying “It’s not easy getting into the ring.” Peduto thanked his rivals for the issues they brought up and the “care and concern” they have for the city and its people.
In her battle against the incumbent, Harris ran on name recognition from her time on city council and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors — and lacked yard signs and funds. Harris, who regularly takes stances opposite of Peduto, repeatedly called for more studies on bike lanes and accused the mayor of bringing homeless people into her district (which Peduto denied).
Welch, dean of students at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, was lesser known than his opponents and ran as the progressive alternative. He routinely criticized Peduto for handing out water filters and plans to replace water pipes as a solution to elevated lead levels.
Harris and Welch denounced Peduto’s relationship with Uber and the company testing self-driving cars in the city. (The mayor, once an advocate for Uber’s self-driving cars in Pittsburgh has since voiced complaints and called for more social responsibility from the company.)
At The Incline and 90.5 WESA’s mayoral forum one week ago, all three candidates were asked what ideas they’d steal from each other if elected. The mayor said Welch’s point-of-entry filters were a “potential part” of the solution to removing lead from Pittsburgh’s water and worth exploring to find the areas of the city where they could be best used. And Harris’ idea to use SCI PIttsburgh as a shelter could be “an opportunity to work with our homeless community.”
After addressing about 250 supporters Tuesday night, Peduto told reporters that his first term was about addressing the problems “not of today’s Pittsburgh but of tomorrow’s,” so that all Pittsburghers can benefit from the city’s new economy.
He said the people in the neighborhoods told a different story than his competitors did, and that his landslide win is a sign of what people want. Those neighborhood voices might have been softer but there are more of them, he said.
“To those who were critical of our agenda, go back into the neighborhoods and listen to the people,” Peduto said.