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Ross Republican makes long-shot bid for White House

| Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, 11:32 p.m.
Matt Drozd of Ross was a two-term Allegheny County Council member.
Matt Drozd of Ross was a two-term Allegheny County Council member.

Matt Drozd says he has done everything Donald Trump has done — and more.

The former Allegheny County councilman from Ross said Friday he filed paperwork to run in New Hampshire's February primary election as a Republican seeking the party's nomination for president.

His name will be listed on the state's ballot as Matt Drozd of Pittsburgh, according to a letter of confirmation from Assistant Secretary of State Karen Ladd.

“I am uniquely qualified to run for the party's nomination,” Drozd said, citing military service with the Air Force and agency service in Washington. A former educator and North Hills School District board member, he has experience running small businesses, he said.

“I have done everything that front-runner Donald Trump has done, on a smaller scale, but Donald Trump has not done as much a I have,” Drozd, 71, told the Tribune-Review.

Drozd served two terms on county council, representing its District 1 in western suburbs and the North Hills. He lost the GOP nomination for re-election in 2013 and, angered by lack of support from establishment Republicans in the county, switched his party affiliation to independent. Drozd said he switched back to Republican not long ago.

While on council, he introduced several nontraditional bills, including one that recommended housing violent U.S. prisoners in Third World nations. He suggested that Western Pennsylvania secede from the state and create its own. He wanted to abolish County Council, which essentially would have fired him and the 14 other members.

As a 2016 presidential candidate, Drozd would join three other Republican contenders with Western Pennsylvania roots. Ohio Gov. John Kasich grew up in McKees Rocks; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was born in Bethel Park; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum spent his childhood in Butler County.

Drozd said he has not filed paperwork to run in any other state, nor has he set up a campaign to raise money for travel or to hire staff.

“I have some friends helping me, as volunteers, to set up a website and so forth,” he said.

“I plan on heading up to New Hampshire about two weeks before the primary election date, to pass out fliers and participate in the debates that they have that include lower-tier candidates.”

New Hampshire's election on Feb. 9 is among the earliest.

Drozd said he's running because, like many Americans, he is concerned about the country's direction. Many issues vital to homeland security aren't covered in the televised Republican debates, he said.

“No one ever talks about the biochemical threat,” he said. “I understand that issue, and it is important.”

Drozd said policymakers aren't effectively addressing immigration matters. “We can't just sweep it under the rug,” he said.

In a news release announcing his intent to run, Drozd acknowledged he has “virtually little, if any, chance to win in New Hampshire” but considers himself “as qualified as the best candidate and more qualified than most running for the presidency.”His goal is to finish in the top 10, he said.

“If I can get my message out, I feel as though I have accomplished something.”

Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at szito@tribweb.com.

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