Natalia Rudiak, 29, of Carrick, has received without question, the most fortiutous political victory in the city of Pittsburgh since at least Harry Readshaw's loss for city council in the early 1990's.
Readshaw, a Democrat with the fiscal conservative nature befitting the small businessman he continues to be, became one of the most well-respected members of the Pennsylvania Legislature, while City Council District 4 has been a non-stop revolving door of Cusicks, Divens and Motziks.
How did she do it? Because of voters in Carrick, one of the city's least recognized neighborhoods.
Power brokers in the city's other “big neighborhoods” in the District, Brookline and Beechview, normally wage political war with their own annointed sons. This year it was “old hat” Anthony Coghill and “newbie” Patrick Reilly. A fourth guy—Richard Weaver—couldn't inspire 100 voters to push the button next to his name.
Yes, everyone involved are Democrats. Former Republican Governor Tom Ridge carried a couple of districts a few years ago in the area, but otherwise, the vast majority of voters there are blind to a two-party system.
In this corner, Coghill, a part-time roofer/part-time state Senator Wayne Fontana staffer, took on Patrick Reilly, a Wagner family disciple who also had the backing of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.
Those cliques have manhandled the 4th District forever; however, the often-forgotten Carrick neighborhood fielded an attractive, talented homegrown girl who obviously benefitted from the never-ending political infighting. Normally, Carrick would field a candidate who wasn't an attractive choice, couldn't raise money, or both. Until recently, those voters who have to wait for scraps from the Wagner and Fontana camps.
It's widely believed that voters in Carrick saved former councilman Jim Motznik's hide when Coghill nearly beat him a handful of years ago. That race was an unexpected barn-burner, as Motznik was reeling from a minor controversy (he fled a television news cameraman and reporter as if the world was on fire). Motznik ultimately gave up the seat so he could run for District Justice (voters overwhelmingly gave him that job despite the fact the video showing him run like a Benny Hill day player is still available online).
Natalia Rudiak has stepped up her community profile in recent years and has established herself as a legitimate neighborhood activist (not in the ACORN “fraud” category, dear friends. The battlers of the status quo...I used to be one once upon a time).
Reports also indicated that city councilman Bill Peduto, the city's true lone revolutionist with a heart of gold, was helpful in getting Rudiak a decent war chest. Peduto should be mayor of Pittsburgh, but isn't related to the backroom deal-makers, so his road has been tough. His endorsement of Rudiak is enough for me.
Congratulations Natalia Rudiak on the most shocking win in local politics since Bob Cranmer beat Coleen Vuono for the third County Commissioner seat. That win wrecked the entire system. That whole governing body was thrown out as a result of that disasterous turn of events. (Long story short: Republicans won the majority for the first time in forever and didn't know what to do with the power. Everyone involved in that improbable election watched as their political lifes imploded in front of their eyes, Democrat and Republican.)
Something tells me that Rudiak, with Peduto and a couple of other potential “movers and shakers,” could be good for my former haunt. She absolutely, positively couldn't do worse...unless another job opens up in the next few years...then it's back to square one all over again.