PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Flaherty name is well known in this region. The Fitzgerald name — much less so.
But that won’t stop Rich Fitzgerald from taking on Mark Flaherty for Allegheny County chief executive.
On Friday, Fitzgerald brought out an impressive group of local elected officials and labor leaders at his announcement, but his biggest supporters are his wife, Cathy, and eight children.
They hope to be Allegheny County’s First Family.
“Mara, Louisa, Madelyn, Jackson, Tanner, Erin, Caroline, Jocelyn, Cathy and Rich,” each repeated his or her name to KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
And it’s Allegheny County Council President Rich Fitzgerald who wants to be the next county executive.
His first priority would be creating the climate for more jobs.
“As an entrepreneur, and more importantly as an engineer, as an energy engineer, western Pennsylvania is going to become the energy capital of the world,” Fitzgerald declared at his announcement.
A number of prominent local officials joined Fitzgerald in the courthouse courtyard, including members of city council, county council, state legislators and Congressman Mike Doyle.
“It’s a tough job. These are tough times. Resources aren’t what they used to be,” Doyle told supporters. “We need somebody with a fire in their belly, with a passion and a good work ethic. Nobody outworks this guy.”
Fitzgerald will need to hustle to defeat his better known opponent, County Controller Mark Flaherty, but he says his early support sends a message.
“These are folks I have worked with out in the community. I’m not just a guy from the courthouse. I’ve been a guy who’s been out in the community over the last 12 years,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald says he and Flaherty have very different styles and at least one big issue disagreement when it comes to reassessments.
“I’m against the reassessment. I’m going to do everything I can to stop the Allegheny County-only reassessment and Mark has said he’s okay with the court-ordered reassessment moving forward. I think that’s a difference right there.”
Both Fitzgerald and Flaherty claim to be reformers.
Fitzgerald needs lots of money to get the name recognition of a Flaherty — and sources tell me he hopes to report more $750,000 in his campaign account next week.
No Republican has announced yet, although county councilmen Chuck McCullough and Matt Drozd are considering a run, along with Tea Party organizer Patricia Weaver.