Smith defeats Raja in state Senate race
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Voters chose the experienced politician over a candidate experienced in creating jobs, in a contentious race to fill a vacant state Senate seat, unofficial tallies showed Tuesday.
State Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, beat Republican D. Raja, a Mt. Lebanon businessman, 53 percent 47 percent. The district, vacated by Republican John Pippy, includes suburbs in the South Hills and west of Pittsburgh.
Smith campaign spokesman Jake Pawlak said Raja conceded about 10:30 p.m. in a phone call to Smith.
“We think the voters responded to Matt's vision for building a future here in Western Pennsylvania and his values, priorities and experience,” Pawlak said.
“It was a hard fought race,” Raja said in a statement. “I congratulate Matt Smith and wish him the very best as our state senator.”
Smith, 40, an attorney, became a state representative in 2007 and ran unopposed for re-election in that district. Raja, 46, is co-founder of customer software firm Computer Enterprises Inc. in Scott. He ran unsuccessfully for Allegheny County executive last year.
Incumbent state senators appeared well positioned to win in two other contested races in Western Pennsylvania.
Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, was cruising to a win in her Westmoreland County district, and Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., R-New Sewickley, led Democratic challenger Kimberly Villella, 57 percent to 43 percent, in a heavily Democratic district concentrated in Beaver County.
Raja and Smith said their legislative priorities are creating jobs, increasing education funding and improving crumbling infrastructure. But in the months leading up to the election, policy talk gave way to attack ads. The latest campaign finance reports show donors pumped about $2.2 million into Raja's campaign, including $1 million from Raja himself in the last seven weeks of the campaign, and almost $800,000 into Smith's campaign.
Raja accused Smith of reneging on a promise to forgo state pension benefits and supporting measures that resulted in taxes totaling $1 million for every day he spent in office. Smith said Raja outsourced jobs to India. Both candidates called their opponents' ads misleading.
In Westmoreland County, Ward was trouncing Greensburg dentist Ron Gazze, 62, in her bid for a second term, 87 percent to 13 percent, tallies showed.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of regulation en route to OT win at Clemson
- Road Trip! Destination: ‘Downton Abbey’ via Delaware
- Why take stock when you can kill the messenger?
- Tuna fritters: A taste of the Caribbean, with an Italian twist
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Lima claims a galaxy of star-quality restaurants
- Home-cooked takeout: Shrimp fried rice
- Fashion essentials: Pittsburgh’s style watchers tell what they can’t live without
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Putin’s actions I
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off