Pittsburgh’s lone Republican mayoral candidate has enlisted the aid of a nationally known black conservative to stand in for him.
Josh Wander, 42, of Squirrel Hill said he can’t make the Pittsburgh Black Political Convention’s candidates forum on April 19 because, as an Orthodox Jew, he observes Shabbos. The forum runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on a Friday.
Wander said he asked friend and fellow conservative C.L. Bryant, a Baptist minister from Grand Cane, La., to act as his proxy.
“Rev. Bryant is a friend of mine whom I’ve known for a long time,” Wander said. “His message is the same as mine. He graciously agreed to come out from Louisiana in order to represent me.”
Bryant could not be reached for comment, but his website describes him as a “Democratic radical” turned “Tea Party Patriot,” who believes liberal Democratic initiatives negatively impact blacks.
Former City Councilman Sala Udin of the Hill District, who heads the black convention, said Bryant’s appearance will not be a problem.
“Whoever Wander sends we will observe,” Udin said.
Event organizers have crafted a “black agenda,” which asks candidates for their views on issues affecting predominantly black neighborhoods. Candidates will air their views during the forum and black registered voters in the city will endorse a candidate the next day, on April 20.
Wander said he would send Bryant his views in writing.
“He might be able to lend some type of Republican platform to the discussion, but we are having a Democratic primary,” said Bill Peduto’s campaign spokeswoman Sonya Toler. “I would like to hear what Josh Wander has to say, not C.L. (Bryant).”
The other campaigns either declined comment or said they had no problem with Wander’s proxy.
Councilman Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze is seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 21 primary along with former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, 65, of Beechview; state Rep. Jake Wheatley, 41, of the Hill District; and community activist A.J. Richardson, 36, of Sheraden.
Wander, who is self-employed, is running unopposed for the Republican mayoral nomination. He announced on Tuesday that he would also run a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Wander said political leaders have exploited blacks for years.
“They need someone who is actually going to care about them and not just disappear from the scene,” he said.
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