Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Candidate Drops out of Race for Pippy's Seat Opens Door for Raja, Smith Contest

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Candidate Drops out of Race for Pippy's Seat Opens Door for Raja, Smith Contest

Article excerpt

The Democratic nominee for outgoing state Sen. John Pippy's seat outside Pittsburgh is dropping out of the race, likely making way for state Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, to run.

If Democratic committee members from Allegheny and Washington counties agree on nominating Mr. Smith, it will set up an intriguing 37th District race between him and Republican businessman D. Raja, also of Mt. Lebanon. Mr. Raja beat state Rep. Mark Mustio in a brutal primary election in April after losing the Allegheny County executive race to Rich Fitzgerald last fall.

"People in the community, Democrats and Republicans alike, have approached me about running for the state Senate. I am flattered and appreciative of the support. I will talk with my family and will make a decision after considering it with them," Mr. Smith said.

The current Democratic nominee for the seat, Greg Parks, filed papers with state elections officials Friday withdrawing from the race. Democratic officials plan to meet Monday to discuss tapping a new candidate before the state's Aug. 13 deadline.

"It is with a heavy heart that today I must withdraw my name for personal reasons that will not allow me to continue the campaign," Mr. Parks said in a statement. "... I will closely follow the nomination process to fill the Democratic slot in this race and will offer my full support as Chair of the Pleasant Hills Democratic Committee to whoever is nominated -- beating Raja must be the highest priority for the person who succeeds me."

Mr. Parks had to run a write-in campaign to get on the ballot. Mr. Pippy, R-Moon, surprisingly announced he would not run again in January, after the first round of new state legislative maps was issued. Mr. Raja won the primary in a very negative race marked by racially-tinged ads run by the Mustio campaign that were criticized by Allegheny County GOP Jim Roddey and others.

"I look forward to a spirited race in the fall regardless of who the opponent ultimately will be. I will continue working hard to spread my message of getting Pennsylvania's economy back on track and I remain confident we will win in November," Mr. …

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