Committee In Chaos

Although it is not stated anywhere for the public to see, the purpose of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee is to endorse Democratic candidates for political office and follow up those endorsements with support. ACDC has long required its members to support the endorsed candidate and, on occasion, has forcibly removed people from office who have chosen to support an alternative option.

This system has been pretty powerful in ensuring that the same kinds of candidates are elected to local office over and over again, thus stamping out the voice of any alternative opinions within the local party. However, the system is getting weaker each year as more unendorsed candidates are elected to office and as party loyalists break the rules for their own agendas.

Most notable in the current election cycle, is the support of unendorsed City Council candidate Anthony Coghill by established Committee members as well as endorsed candidates. Despite the steadfast position of ACDC that its members may only support endorsed candidates, there have been no consequences for folks like 29th Ward Chair Mary Angela Ogg, Committeeman Tony Mosesso, Commiteeman Matt Hogue, and Mayor Luke Ravestahl for their support of Coghill. According to precendent and policy, Ogg, Mosesso, and Hogue should be removed from their Committee seats. Furthermore, the Committee should not provide support to an endorsed candidate that does not respect its process by supporting someone not endorsed.

In recent years, unendorsed candidates have seen success in local races. For example, Bruce Kraus and Patrick Dowd were victors in their Council contests in 2007 without the endorsement.

All of this only indicates that the relevance of ACDC is waning, not only among the people who actually make the decision of who to elect, the voters, but also among its own ranks. There is less and less respect for the party process that attempts to suppress the democratic process by limiting choice and telling voters what to do.

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  • Matt H

    Thanks for the mention.

  • Matt H

    I wouldn’t call this “Committee in Chaos”…far from it…it was a tainted endorsement process and the endorsement should be thrown out or there should be a re-vote. This endorsement process in this race has been far from a clean vote. That’s a point that you can’t deny.

    Dowd barely won against Bodack and Bodack did little to no campaigning. Throw in a candidate who would/will actually campaign and Dowd is a goner.

    Bruce Kraus…love the guy and I am glad he is on Council.

  • emma

    Tainted because your candidate didn’t win it? Complaining about this one, just like you are complaining about the Beechview endorsement that your candidate did not win? Grow up, Matt.

  • Matt H

    I’m not complaining about the Beechview clean up endorsement. In my opinion organizations like that shouldn’t endorse candidates. By coming out and endorsing a candidate that could jeopardize their organization in receiving funding from city, state or federal sources.

    I am a board of Director of the West End-Elliott Citizens Council and we have never nor will we endorse candidates because that would put our funding in jeopardy.

    In the end that Beechview clean up endorsement doesn’t matter nor does any other endorsement truly matter because the only endorsement that Anthony wants is the one on Election Day from the voters. That’s the one he wants and that’s the one he is going to get.

    You tell me to grow up and I don’t understand that. All I am doing is expressing my concerns and questions in a forum. I am not the only one who shares these same concerns and questions. I hear the same comments every day when we are out on the doors talking to voters.

  • Matt H

    Perhaps someone can help me out here.

    For years, most of the comments at this blog have been anti-ACDC for many reasons, including the endorsement process.

    When the ACDC held a bylaws convention, many fans of this blog and many progressives hoped that it would fail.
    Cheers rang out by many progressives in the room at the bylaws convention when the proposed “Disciplinary Rule” was tabled.

    That rule would have allowed the ACDC to go after people on the committee who support un-endorsed candidates in the Primary.
    Now, as before the convention, committee members should recuse themselves from the party if they are backing unendorsed candidates. Perhaps you should try reading the ACDC rules before you write about them on the blogs.

    You have a lot of nerve implying hypocrisy on the part of the ACDC, unless of course you supported the bylaw change that would have given the ACDC the authority to remove the people whose names you mentioned.

  • emma

    The hypocrisy of the ACDC begins with the SELECTIVE enforcement of rules at times and completely making up new rules at other times.

    Have you resigned your committee seat since you are openly supporting an un-endorsed candidate?

  • emma

    “In my opinion organizations like that shouldn’t endorse candidates.”

    That’s a long way from complaining that your candidate wasn’t invited to pick up trash in the neighborhood, like you did over on their blog. It’s pretty clear that your only problem is that it wasn’t your candidate who got the endorsement.

  • Matt H

    Not at all. Only one endorsement matters to this campaign…

  • Gloria

    Thank you for this post. I agree that the effect of the ACDC’s endorsement is waning.

    Dowd won his race for School Board, he wasn’t the endorsed candidate. Heather Arnet won this very same seat, without the endorsement. (Dowd didn’t seek re-election, he ran for Council). Lisa Bennington won the state rep.from incumbent Pistella, again, without the endorsement.

    Dem. Committee members are elected to represent the people in their precinct. I have never had any communication with either of my “representatives”, their votes don’t represent me, their votes represent the ACDC’s choices.

    The voters of Allegheny County are realizing that the ACDC’s endorsement process doesn’t rely on an objective set of criteria to determine the best candidate – far from it.

    And, yes, rules are applied in a subjective way, when it suits the leadership.

    Finally, the ACDC, an organization that exists to SUPPORT candidates, looks upon the election cycle as a glorified fund raiser. Candidates must pony up considerable sums to just be considered for endorsement, knowing that, if they’re not chosen, the money they’ve worked so hard to raise for their campaign will go towards funding their opponents’ campaigns.

    This keeps many, especially first time candidates, from seeking the endorsement.

    How can we expect to encourage the best and the brightest to run when they’re up against this mummified system?

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  • acdc

    Matt and Emma -

    Get a room!

  • Tony Mosesso

    April 28, 2009

    The Committee is not in “Chaos”.

    It’s ashame when one person controlls the committee vote were we live and picks who should run.
    This person picks the people that he can controll, not the best

  • emma

    Tony, why don’t you name names?

    Who picks candidates? Who is controlled? Who is the best candidate?

  • Matt H

    I believe Tony is talking about the 19th Ward.