Tony Moreno, shown in 2019
Old social media posts by Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Tony Moreno that support former President Donald Trump were condemned by the city’s Democratic Committee chairman less than a week before the party announces its slate of endorsed candidates.
Moreno, 51, a retired city police officer from Brighton Heights, is one of two candidates seeking the committee’s endorsement, which will be announced Sunday.
The other is state Rep. Ed Gainey, 51, of Lincoln-Lemington. Mayor Bill Peduto and North Side businessman Will Parker, 41, are also running for the Democratic nomination in the May 18 primary, but aren’t seeking the committee’s endorsement.
Moreno’s tweets that appear to support Trump were reported by Pittsburgh City Paper a week ago.
Many of the tweets cited in the report have since been deleted and Moreno’s Twitter account is now protected so people can’t retweet or find his tweets in a search engine.
Some retweets of Trump supporters, including Donald Trump Jr. and the conservative-leaning The Daily Caller, remain visible, however.
“Back when I was citizen Tony, I was like everyone else and mad at the political scheme,” Moreno said Tuesday.
He said he tweeted out “bombastically about the president” and did so to stoke political fires.
But as he’s campaigned, he said he’s changed the way he operates.
“Ridiculous rhetoric behind the keyboard does not get anything done. I realized what I was doing was not the way to do things and I stopped it,” Moreno said. “Looking back at it, there was nothing positive that came from it.”
Still the old tweets came under fire from the leader of the city’s Democrats.
“I and the leadership of the Pittsburgh City Democratic Committee unequivocally disapprove of any statements supportive of Donald Trump,” said Kevin Quigley, chair of the city’s Democrats. “What Donald Trump stands for and represents has no place whatsoever in our party and in our city.”
In an interview Tuesday, Moreno affirmed his support for Democratic values.
“I am pro-union, I am pro-Pittsburgh. People know where I stand, they know who I am,” Moreno said.
Should Moreno get the committee’s endorsement, Quigley said a special meeting will be held to consider how to address it in light of Moreno’s previous support for Trump.
In his statement, Quigley also wrote that he’s “aware that Mayor Peduto, though not seeking the endorsement, has been actively pushing committee members to vote for Moreno.”
Peduto’s campaign manager Schuyler Shaeffer said this was “categorically false.”
“Mayor Peduto has called for reform on the Democratic Committee and for an open primary. Since we are not pursuing the ACDC endorsement, the internal machinations of the committee are not a priority to us right now,” Shaeffer wrote in a statement.
Quigley declined to comment outside of his statement.
The flap continues internal turmoil among local Democrats, who last year endorsed Heather Kass over Jessica Benham for the 36th District state House seat. Kass also came under fire for Trump-supporting social media posts and Benham ultimately won the race.
But the endorsement spurred Peduto to call for reforms to the committee’s endorsement process. The mayor cited the lack of action on the issue as the reason he wasn’t seeking an endorsement this year.
Party infighting was also evident Saturday, when Gainey campaign manager Moses Nelson and Democratic activist Kierran Young, 28, of Stanton Heights argued and nearly came to blows. The encounter took place at a petition drive in the Steamfitters Local 449 parking lot in Duquesne Heights.
Outside groups and political leaders in the region thus far have endorsed Peduto.
Gainey has the support of the activist group One Pennsylvania and the union SEIU Healthcare PA, while Peduto has been endorsed by state Sen. Wayne Fontana, a Democrat from Brookline, and state Rep. Emily Kinkead, a Democrat from Brighton Heights.
The mayor is also being supported by City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith and council members Bruce Kraus, Bobby Wilson, Ricky Burgess, R. Daniel Lavelle, Erika Strassburger and Corey O’Connor, and Allegheny County Councilman DeWitt Walton.
These unions have also endorsed Peduto: United Steelworkers District 10, AFSCME Western Pa. Public Employees Council 54, Laborer’s District Council of Western Pa., Laborers Union Local 1058 and Local 373, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, Graphical Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 24M/9N, and the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics Local 1.
Moreno has received endorsements from people and organizations, but he said he wasn’t ready to make those public.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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