The Lead

GOP state Senate candidate Raja ties Iovino to AOC, Sanders in new attack ad

By: - February 27, 2019 9:56 am

Pam Iovino, Democratic candidate for the 37th Senate District special election, pictured next to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Raja campaign)

In his first two ads, Republican state Senate candidate D. Raja punched up his background as a businessman, immigrant and father.

Now, Raja’s, who’s running for the open 37th District seat in Pittsburgh’s wealthy south suburbs is going on the attack against his Democratic opponent — Navy veteran and former Bush cabinet assistant secretary Pam Iovino — in a new ad.

He’s playing the Socialist card.

The ad attempts to link Iovino to two icons of the left: U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, as well as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“She’s teamed up with extremists who want to stop our growth with billions in new taxes, resulting in higher energy bills and massive job losses,” the ad says while pictures of the three join Iovino’s face on screen.

Underneath the claim, the ad cites Iovino’s campaign Facebook page and Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019-2020 budget.

READ MORE: The state of special elections this upcoming spring, including the 37th District

A review of Iovino’s Facebook found no references to either politician. Bu it did reference a table at a summit for Keystone Progress, a state progressive activism group, in Pittsburgh.

Wolf’s budget proposal also does not include a severance tax. But a plan floated the week before his budget address would use a tax on natural gas production to invest in state infrastructure, from rural high speed internet to blight reduction to frack well site preparation.

In a statement, Iovino’s spokeswoman, Abigail Gardner, pointed to Iovino’s service under, and approval by, Republicans to question the extremist label.

“Obviously her background of putting service and the country first can’t be attacked, so the Raja campaign is making up things up instead,” Gardner said in an email. “Republicans tried to do the same thing to Conor Lamb and it failed miserably.”

Lamb, who won a tight Congressional special election last March in southwestern Pennsylvania, will be joining the Iovino campaign this weekend to knock doors for her. His old 18th Congressional District and new 17th both overlapped with parts of the open 37th Senate District.

Iovino also opposed Lamb for the Democratic nod in the 18th Congressional race.

The seat is open following the resignation of former state senator, now-U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th District, earlier this year. The election is April 2.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.