Is Allegheny County politics going tribal? Centrist traditions to be tested Nov. 7. Candidates for county executive try to portray each other as representing political extremes, even as voters weigh moderation’s value and polling suggests polarization. The upcoming election for Allegheny County executive on November 7 is shedding light on the growing polarization in local politics. Both major candidates, Republican Matt Drozd and Democratic incumbent Rich Fitzgerald, are trying to depict each other as representing political extremes, appealing to voters who align with their respective parties. This shift away from the traditional centrist approach raises questions about the future of moderation in Allegheny County politics. It is no surprise that polarization has seeped into local politics given the current state of national politics. The increasing divide between Republicans and Democrats at the national level has influenced campaigns at the local level, leading to a shift away from centrist positions. Candidates are now being pushed towards the fringes of their party in order to secure the support of their base. In the case of the Allegheny County executive race, both Drozd and Fitzgerald have embraced this trend. Drozd, a Tea Party member, has positioned himself as a conservative Republican, appealing to the right-wing voters in the county. On the other hand, Fitzgerald has positioned himself as a progressive Democrat, aligning with the liberal base of the party. By doing so, both candidates are trying to energize their base and ensure high voter turnout on election day. This shift towards polarization in local politics has raised concerns about the future of moderation and bipartisanship. Moderation has long been seen as a key feature of Allegheny County politics, with leaders like Dan Onorato and Tom Murphy often praised for their ability to work across party lines. However, with the rise of polarization, there is a fear that this centrist tradition may be eroding. Polling data also suggests a growing division among voters in Allegheny County. A recent poll conducted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the University of Pittsburgh showed that more voters are identifying as strongly partisan, with fewer considering themselves moderate. This polarization is reflected in the current campaign, with Drozd and Fitzgerald portraying each other as representing the extreme ends of the political spectrum. However, it is worth noting that not all voters are embracing this trend. Many still value moderation and bipartisanship, seeing it as a necessary approach to governing. These voters may be turned off by the extreme rhetoric and divisive tactics employed by both candidates. It is these voters who will play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of the election. The centrist tradition in Allegheny County politics has been built on the idea of finding common ground and working towards practical solutions. It is a tradition that has served the county well, allowing for progress and development. The question now is whether this tradition can withstand the growing polarization in local politics. In order to maintain the centrist tradition, leaders will need to actively work to bridge the divide between parties and find common ground. This means moving away from extreme rhetoric and focusing on issues that affect all residents of Allegheny County. It also means prioritizing collaboration and compromise over party loyalty. Ultimately, the outcome of the Allegheny County executive race will serve as a test for the future of moderation in local politics. If voters flock to the extreme ends of the political spectrum, it could signal a shift away from the centrist tradition that has defined the county for years. However, if voters choose a candidate who embodies moderation and bipartisanship, it will send a message that the tradition is still valued. November 7 will be a pivotal day for Allegheny County politics. The choice that voters make will determine whether the county continues on the path of moderation or succumbs to the growing polarization. It is a choice that will have lasting effects on the county and its residents.
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