PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When Mark Flaherty proposed last March that county taxpayers invest $2.5 billion in drilling for natural gas on Allegheny County property, his primary opponent Rich Fitzgerald jumped all over it as a “risky scheme.”
Now the two Democrats for Allegheny County Executive are going at it, with Flaherty suggesting that Fitzgerald has undermined his own attack.
Fitzgerald campaign ad: “Risking taxpayer dollars subsidizing gas drilling. Sounds like a Republican idea. But it’s Mark Patrick Flaherty’s scheme.”
These ads have been all over the airwaves.
Now Flaherty is shooting back, releasing this email that Rich Fitzgerald sent to the head of the Marcellus Shale Coalition last January.
“I was seeking support, I was seeking endorsements, I was seeking financial contributions,” Fitzgerald told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
Fitzgerald told the coalition that, “my campaign has gotten next to nothing” from the industry, adding “I need money and I need it fast.”
He also accused Flaherty of being “clueless about natural gas.”
Fitzgerald says there’s nothing hypocritical in his attack on Flaherty.
“What I’m criticizing Mark Flaherty for is putting taxpayer dollars at risk,” Fitzgerald said. “I have not said that he should not be for Marcellus shale.”
“Do you have any regrets for the tone of that email?” asked Jon Delano.
“Well, again, you probably have regrets over whatever you say. But, no, I’m out trying to raise money. There’s nothing I did that was untoward.”
Fitzgerald dismisses Flaherty’s attack as just more politics.
He says what’s really important is that he, Fitzgerald, is the only real Democrat in this Democratic primary. He accuses Flaherty of hiring Republican operatives and even sharing a campaign post office box with Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Flaherty was out-of-town today, but his campaign confirmed the P.O. Box in Sewickley was used.
“The fact that he shares a P.O. box with Mr. Corbett and that he shares campaign operatives with Mr. Corbett, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Toomey is what my problem is,” adds Fitzgerald.
Flaherty has hired fundraising professionals who usually work for Republicans, but his spokesman defends them, saying Fitzgerald is just trying to intimidate them.
With only five days left in this campaign, the rhetoric on both sides has ratcheted up.