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Flaherty To Challenge Wagner For County Controller, While Fitzgerald Stays Mum

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Surrounded by supporters, former Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty announced a comeback try for his old office.

"I believe that I can restore the respect and confidence needed in the office of county controller to do an effective job," declared Flaherty.

Flaherty will challenge the incumbent, Chelsa Wagner, who took Flaherty's job when he gave it up to run for county executive against Rich Fitzgerald.

But in the 'politics makes strange bedfellows' department, sources tell KDKA that Fitzgerald sought out his old challenger to encourage him to run against Wagner, who has had multiple public spats with the county executive.

And this time, Fitzgerald's 2011 campaign manager -- Mike Mikus -- is managing Flaherty's campaign.

The county controller's office is just one door down from the county executive's office.

But when it comes to Rich Fitzgerald and Chelsa Wagner, they might as well be miles apart. These two don't agree on much of anything.

The question is -- is that good or bad for county government?

In a statement, Wagner called herself an "independent" controller, adding, "Voters want and deserve a controller that works for and answers to them, not someone who is running at the direction of the county executive, and answers to him."

Fitzgerald would not comment, so KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked Flaherty directly.

Delano: "Chelsa Wagner says you are running at the request of Rich Fitzgerald. True or untrue?"

Flaherty: "That's not true."

Delano: "Has the county executive said he will support you?"

Flaherty: "No, he has not."

Delano: "He has not told you he will back you?"

Flaherty: "We haven't really talked about it."

While Fitzgerald has not formally endorsed Flaherty, nobody on Grant Street expects him to sit this race out.

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