Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto handily won the primary Tuesday night, after taking an early evening lead over opponents Darlene Harris and John Welch.
By 10 p.m., Peduto had nearly 70 percent of the vote, more than double the combined effort of Welch (17 percent) and Harris (13 percent).
In his victory speech, Peduto said that four years ago, people elected him with the expectation of reforming city government by making it more professional—and now they have spoken clearly that the city is on the road to success, and even more is expected.
“They have made it a mandate to watch as we rebuild our economy from the last parts of the old industrial revolution," Peduto said. "The scars that were left throughout our communities, to be able to heal those scars and build our economy with a promise that it will be one for all.”
He said he has four clear mandates.
“Reform city government, rebuild our economy, invest in our neighborhoods and invest in our people," he said.
This was the first campaign for Welch, a former Peduto supporter. He said Tuesday was a long day for him. He spent the morning visiting Brighton Heights, Manchester, Arlington, Brookline and other neighborhoods across the city. And that grassroots effort is what his campaign has relied on.
It mostly utilized social media and word of mouth.
At a private event downtown celebrating his effort, he said he was encouraged by the outcome of the election.
“I think from what I’ve been hearing, the feedback I’ve gotten from people across the city," Welch said, "they want me to continue on. People have not heard the last of John C. Welch.”
He said he intends to continue in elected politics, although he does not know what form that will take.
“This was fun," Welch said. "And Bill Peduto is still my friend.”
Harris, a longtime city council member, joined the race late, filing a petition with the Allegheny County Board of Elections just ahead of the deadline in March.
She was often critical of Peduto’s travels and said that Welch “was put into this campaign by Peduto” to diminish her support.
Supporters of Councilwoman Harris cheered when she arrived at the bar around 10:15 p.m. She said she had just called Peduto to congratulate him on his win.
“He said we’ll have to sit down and talk about what we can do for my district,” Harris said.
She said as a councilwoman representing North Side neighborhoods, she’ll focus on public safety, delivering city services, cleaning up neighborhoods and “trying to make it a better Pittsburgh for all.”
Harris said she doesn’t know if she’ll run for mayor again in the future, or if she’ll run for re-election to her council seat in 2019.
After the numbers came in Tuesday, though, Harris told a supporter she felt a bit relieved by the results.
"Yeah, a little bit," she said, "that I don't have to do all of that work."
Meanwhile, Anthony Coghill won the Democratic primary for Natalia Rudiak's City Council seat representing District 4. This was Coghill's fourth attempt at City Council. He beat out opponent and Rudiak's chief of staff Ashleigh Deemer, who called him around 9 p.m. to concede.
"You know what they say, fourth time's a charm," Coghill said.
90.5 WESA reporters Mark Nootbaar, Sarah Kovash, Virginia Alvino Young, Sarah Schneider, and Liz Reid contributed to this report.