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Politics

Buchanan says Rothfus switched parties years ago

| Friday, May 14, 2010

Republican congressional candidate Mary Beth Buchanan accused her primary challenger Friday of voting as a Democrat throughout the 1990s, but election officials said the data she used is unreliable.

Buchanan, the former U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania, is battling Edgeworth attorney Keith Rothfus in the Republican primary for the right to challenge Democrat Jason Altmire in the November general election.

At a news conference this morning outside the County Office Building, Downtown, Buchanan's aides handed out a printout of Rothfus' voting history. The printout shows that Rothfus registered as a Democrat in 1990 and voted in 18 elections as a Democrat before voting in the 2004 general election as a Republican.

"What I learned is that (Rothfus) wasn't just trying to hide his lack of experience, but that he was hiding that he was a registered Democrat for 13 years," Buchanan said.

But Mark Wolosik, head of the Allegheny County Elections Department, said the party history data is unreliable because the county switched computer systems in August 2003. Whatever party the person was registered as at that time was assigned as the party for all previous elections.

Rothfus said he registered as a Democrat to vote in the 2002 primary "to vote against Philadelphia Ed" Rendell.

"We wanted the weaker candidate. I voted for Casey because he was the weaker candidate to face (Republican) Mike Fisher," Rothfus said. "Those records are erroneous.

"I was a Republican in 1992 when I voted for Stephen Friend (in the primary race against Sen. Arlen Specter)," Rothfus said. "In the 2000 primary I voted for Bush."

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