Raja Wins GOP Senate Nomination
D. Raja crushed state Rep. Mark Mustio and Sue Means after a bitter campaign battle.
Mt. Lebanon business owner D. Raja grabbed the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania's 37th senatorial district in Tuesday's primary.
Raja, who is vying to replace outgoing state Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, won the GOP nomination with more than 40 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns. No Democrat has entered the race for the seat but Pleasant Hills Democrat Greg Parks has indicated that he will run as a write-in candidate, according to the Raja campaign.
Raja and his supporters are now gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pittsburgh. His opponent, state Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, conceded the race.
"Tomorrow is when the real work begins," Raja said of the general election. "I was thinking we were going to have tonight to celebrate, but it looks like we're going to head into a general election."
The former Mt. Lebanon commissioner in 2011 lost his bid to become Allegheny County Executive to Democrat Rich Fitzgerald. He is owner of software firm Computer Enterprises Inc, and frequently railed against Pennsylvania's steep corporate taxes on the campaign trail.
He said if elected he would not accept a state pension and would push Harrisburg lawmakers to adopt a 401k plan.
Raja called his bid for the nomination as "the toughest race" he has been involved in.
Mustio gained just 25 percent of the vote. Bethel Park activist Sue Means garnered 30 percent of the vote. Means and Mustio could not be reached for comment.
"We congratulate the Raja campaign," said Mustio spokesman Ryan O'Barto. "We had a hard-fought campaign and we are really proud of what we accomplished. Mark had a lot of support in his home district and he looks forward to continuing to represent it."
Mustio came under fire in recent days after his campaign distributed literature accusing Raja, a native of India, of outsourcing jobs to the country. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revoked its endorsement of the township-based legislator as a result of the advertisements, which bore the Indian flag. Mustio pulled the ads last week and called for "a degree of decorum and respect" in the race.
Mustio, a former Moon Township supervisor, had been endorsed by both Pippy as well as the Moon Township Republican Commitee. He won the Republican nomination for his re-election to the state house with 96 percent of the vote. He will face Democrat Mark Scappe, a former president of the Moon Area School Board, in the general election for the state house's 44th district. Both Mustio and Scappe ran unopposed in the primary for the district.
Allegheny County Councilman Matt Drozd said Mustio's negative campaign ads hurt his campaign.
"I think that had a lot to do with it, I do," Drozd said. "People are just so tired of the negative campaigning. They want to hear what you're going to do for them and what kind of candidate you are. People have just lost faith in their government."
Pippy, who earlier tonight called to congratulate Raja on his victory, in January announced his intent to retire from Harrisburg politics at this end of his term. He was first elected to the 37th senatorial seat in a 2003 special election.
"You were all here when no one believed in me," Raja said. "With your support we'll go to Harrisburg."