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Raja to run again, seek Pennsylvania Senate seat

Tony LaRussa
| Friday, Feb. 17, 2012

Even though his bid for Allegheny County executive fell short last year, D. Raja believes the region can benefit from many of his ideas.

But this time, the Mt. Lebanon businessman is taking his case to residents of the 37th state Senate District, where Republican John Pippy is not seeking re-election.

Thursday was the deadline for state House and Senate candidates to file for the April 24 primary.

"The issues I brought up during the election like lowering taxes, addressing our transportation needs, bringing jobs to the area and using innovation to solve our problems are still very important, " said Raja, 46. "And I think it might be best to try to attack those things from Harrisburg."

Raja will battle Mark Mustio, 54, of Moon, and Sue Means, 60, of Bethel Park, for the GOP nomination. No Democrats filed for the seat.

Mustio, who is running for re-election to the 44th District House seat he has held since 2003, faces GOP challenger Ron Steele of Moon. Mark Scappe of Moon is unopposed for the Democrats.

"This election is going to be about jobs," Mustio said. "In my legislative district, people have been working because government invested in infrastructure and then got out of the way. The Senate will allow me to bring that to more people."

Means, who previously ran for a state House seat, said she's in the race because she "couldn't sit quietly by and watch the inaction from Harrisburg."

"We were promised things such as term limits, school choice and limited government. So far that hasn't happened, so I want to help deliver on those promises."

Other local contested state House races include:

-- 50th District: Incumbent Bill DeWeese, who was convicted by a jury last week of theft, conspiracy and other charges for using legislative employees and public resources for campaign work, is unchallenged in the primary for the Democratic nomination. Two Republicans, Mark Fischer and George Toothman, are vying for the party nomination.

-- 22nd District: Three Democrats -- Erin Molchany, Martin Schmotzer and Stephanie Crossey -- are vying for the seat vacated by Democrat Chelsa Wagner, who is Allegheny County controller. Chris Cratsley is the sole Republican running. Whether the open seat will be filled remains in limbo because the state Supreme Court threw out the legislative redistricting plan.

-- 24th District: Incumbent Joe Preston faces a challenge from three fellow Democrats: Todd Koger, Ed Gainey and William Anderson. No Republicans are running.

-- 39th District: Former Rep. David Levdansky, a Democrat, is trying to win back his seat from Republican Rick Saccone. To do that, he must defeat two other Democrats for the nomination -- Robert Rhoderick and Dan Connolly. Saccone faces a primary challenge from Shauna D'Alessandro.

-- 20th District: Incumbent Democrat Adam Ravenstahl faces a primary challenge from Mark Purcell and David Schuilenburg.

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