The Lead

Western Pa. state Senate candidates trade second round of attacks in new ads

By: - March 8, 2019 4:19 pm

Pam Iovino, top, and D. Raja, below. (Capital-Star photos by Stephen Caruso)

Editor’s note: This story was corrected to reflect that Democrat Matt Smith held the 37th from 2013 to 2015.*

Candidates vying for a state Senate seat in suburban Pittsburgh released dueling attack ads Friday, less than a month before a highly watched special election.

Pam Iovino, a Democratic Navy veteran and former cabinet assistant secretary, will face Republican businessman D. Raja, who chairs the Allegheny County GOP, to fill the vacant 37th Senate District.

Iovino’s ad brings back attacks that have been used against Raja in his previous failed runs for office — including one for the same Senate seat in 2012. The ad features claims, based on reporting by Pittsburgh City Paper, that Raja profited off of outsourcing jobs while suing his own employees.

Raja’s campaign has denied the charge.

Meanwhile, Raja’s ad ties Iovino to a New York law that allows abortion after 24 weeks if a fetus isn’t viable and a Virginia proposal that would reduce the number of doctors who have to sign off on an abortion in the third trimester.

The ad uses the phrase “late-term abortion,” which is not a defined medical term.

Iovino’s campaign website make no direct mention of abortion rights, but she does have the endorsement of Emily’s List, a PAC that backs Democratic women who support abortion access, and Planned Parenthood.

Her site also trumpets the importance of affordable primary and higher education, raising the minimum wage, and the backing of organized labor.

Raja’s website describes him as “pro-job, pro-life, and pro-2nd Amendment.” Previous ads also showed support for the natural gas industry.

The seat is open because of the resignation of former state senator, now Congressman Guy Reschenthaler. Aside from Democrat Matt Smith for 2013 to 2015*, Republicans have controlled the seat since 1980. Democrats hope to flip it on the path to a 2020 majority.

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.