The first TV ad of Bill Peduto’s campaign was a 30-second address made directly to President Donald Trump, criticizing the Republican leader’s rhetoric and proposed budget cuts.
But Peduto isn’t running for a seat in the House of Representatives or the Senate. In fact, he’s not seeking federal office of any kind. He’s a mayor, running for re-election in Pittsburgh, and his office has very little to do with the White House.
“Mr. President, if you keep trying to cut health care and after-school programs, even a Patriots fan like you should know that won’t play in Pittsburgh,” the Democratic candidate said. (The NFL’s New England Patriots are rivals to Pittsburgh’s football team, the Steelers.)
A local candidate running ads about the Leader of the Free World might seem odd. But even in the smallest races, Democratic strategists predict, it’s about to become commonplace.
The new president has such a grip on the Democratic Party’s psyche that candidates can’t ignore him – even if they’re running for positions such as mayor that are ostensibly more about local issues. That makes ads about the New York billionaire inevitable, as Democratic candidates try to prove to their base that they’ll do whatever they can to fight this president.