PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Will he or won’t he?
That’s the big question this week, as speculation grows that Dan Onorato will not seek a third term as Allegheny County chief executive.
That would leave a big hole in the political firmament and a chance for other politicians to make their move.
It may also give the Republicans a chance to extend their statewide winning streak.
“I suspect Dan has spent a great holiday weekend with his friends and with his family, and he will share his decision with us very shortly,” says Pennsylvania Democratic Chair Jim Burn.
“I don’t think that he will run,” says Jim Roddey, former county executive and Republican county chair.
Roddey thinks Onorato eyes a statewide job.
“He has expressed interest I know to run for Auditor General in 2012, and to run in 2011 would just be too many campaigns, one after another,” he said.
Onorato is not talking, but speculation grows that this is his last year as county executive.
It’s called the third most powerful elected position in Pennsylvania after governor and mayor of Philadelphia, which is why if Onorato chooses not to run for reelection, there are lots of other folks who would love his job.
Among them is County Controller Mark Flaherty, whose campaign said last week he is running regardless of Onorato’s decision.
If Onorato opts out, County Council President Rich Fitzgerald is likely to run as well.
Less likely Democrats include City Controller Michael Lamb, who may run for reelection instead and State Rep. Chelsa Wagner, more likely to run for county controller.
Republicans have a shot, too. One of their dream candidates is State Sen. John Pippy.
“He would be a great candidate, if he chose to and he would be a formidable candidate,” says Roddey of Pippy.
Another possible candidate is former mayor candidate Mark DeSantis who lost to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
“Very articulate, well-versed in government, so he would be a good campaigner,” notes Roddey.
But Roddey admits that if Onorato wants a third term, “He would be very difficult to beat if he chose to run.”
Many insiders think Onorato would beat Flaherty or any Democrat in the May 17th primary and go on to win a third term in November.
But if he has any desire to use his new statewide recognition to run for statewide office in 2012, insiders think he should not run locally this year.
Onorato has told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano that he will share with all of us what he is doing shortly.