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D. Raja Wins GOP Nod in 37th District

State Rep. Mark Mustio of Moon has conceded the election after a bruising weekend battle over campaign literature aimed at his primary opponent.

Mt. Lebanon business owner has won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania's 37th Senate district in Tuesday's state primary election. 

More than 97 percent of Allegheny County precincts have reported returns. 

Raja, who is vying to replace outgoing state Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, defeated two other candidates to win the GOP nomination with more than 40 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.

No Democrat has entered the race for the seat, but Pleasant Hills Democrat Greg Parks has indicated that he will run as a write-in candidate in the November general election, according to Raja campaign officials. 

Raja and his supporters gathered at the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South hotel in Bethel park. He confirmed that state Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, who until recent days had been viewed as his most serious competition in the race, had conceded. 

"Tomorrow is when the real work begins," Raja said of the November contest. "I was thinking we were going to have tonight to celebrate, but it looks like we're going to head into a general election." 

The former Mt. Lebanon commissioner in 2011  to Democrat Rich Fitzgerald in a bid to become Allegheny County Executive He is the owner of the software firm Computer Enterprises Inc, and during his campaigns frequently railed against what he called steep corporate taxes in Pennsylvania. 

He said if elected he would not accept a state pension and would push Harrisburg lawmakers to adopt a 401k plan. 

Raja called his bid for the senate nomination "the toughest race" he has waged.

 gained just 25 percent of the vote, coming in third behind Bethel Park activist Sue Means, who drew 30 percent of the vote. Means and Mustio could not be reached for comment.

"We congratulate the Raja campaign," said Mustio spokesman Ryan O'Barto. "We had a hard-fought campaign, and we are really proud of what we accomplished. Mark had a lot of support in his home district and he looks forward to continuing to represent it." 

Mustio came under fire in recent days after his campaign distributed literature accusing Raja, a native of India, of outsourcing jobs to that country. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revoked its of the township-based legislator as a result of the fliers, which also bore an image of the flag of India.

The backlash prompted Mustio to  the ads last week and call for "a degree of decorum and respect" in the race. 

Mustio, a former Moon Township supervisor, had been endorsed by both Pippy as well as the Moon Township Republican Commitee.

Allegheny County Councilman Matt Drozd, whose district includes Moon and Crescent townships, said those negative campaign ads hurt rather than helped Mustio's campaign. 

"I think that had a lot to do with it, I do," said Drozd, who joined supporters at Raja's victory party. "People are just so tired of the negative campaigning. They want to hear what you're going to do for them and what kind of candidate you are. People have just lost faith in their government."

Mustio, however, did walk away from Tuesday's primary with one win. He is seeking re-election in his state House district, and he drew 96 percent of the vote while running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

He will face Democrat Mark Scappe, a former president of the , in the general election for the state house's 44th district. Scappe also ran unopposed in the primary. 

, who called to congratulate Raja on his victory Tuesday night, in January announced his  from Harrisburg politics at this end of his term. He was first elected to the 37th district in a 2003 special election. 

"You were all here when no one believed in me," Raja said. "With your support we'll go to Harrisburg." 

Check back with Patch for more coverage of election issues. 

Jodie April 25, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Shame Scappe is the candidate against Mustio for State Rep a good candidate actually would have had a shot.
Teri Shaw April 25, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I would not underestimate the public. Mustio just went to far with Raja. I feel Scappe would represent us well.
Don April 25, 2012 at 02:26 PM
It is a shame that Mustio told the truth about an opponent and lost an election because of it..........
lynn April 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Jodie,don't be so quick to rule out Scappe. Look at the vote totals - Mustio was trounced by Raja, and embarrassesd by Sue Means. He finished a distant third out of three candidates. Sue Means didn't even campaign - I received two pieces of literature in the mail, and she had a few signs up. She didn't have any tv commercials, spent very little money, yet she finished well ahead of Mustio. This was a total rejection of Mustio by the voters, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if this carries over into November and Mark Scappe wins the election.
Louisa April 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Scappe winning in November, don't make me laugh. First off the district is majority Republican, second I think many of the Raja votes in Moon were from voters unhappy with the Mustio senate race, or voters who want to KEEP Mustio our rep. In November many voters who did not vote in the primary will be out to vote against Obama, when this happens it should naturally help Mr. Mustio. What Mr. Mustio needs to do in the fall is highlight his accomplishments in the capitol and compare that to the massive debt and taxes Mr. Scappe has laid upon the Moon Area Taxpayers. As I said the other day Sue Means got my vote for senate but Mustio got my vote for the house.
Jodie April 25, 2012 at 04:21 PM
If you look at the issues Sue Means was the best candidate and her strong 2nd place showing proved it. What Mustio did to Raja was wrong be interesting to see the flyers coming about Scappe.
Teri Shaw April 25, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Louisa Where have you been. It was not Scappe that caused the debt. It was the board which cancel the project. Scappe campaigned on getting a High School built which was recommended by not one but 5 consultants. He was at a house party stated exactly what his team was going to do. His team did win. They won the election and building the building. He did exactly what the public put him in office to do. The additional fund needed was due to the cancellation of the first project and wasting 7 million. Then the that board spent funds to renovate an elementary building which was not needed for another 10 million. This was not controled by Scappe. Let's put the debt on the right board members. It was NOT Scappe. Let's look at Mr. Mustio's record. Giving himself a pay raise in the midnight hour.
seen2mch April 25, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Mustio!! Finished third behind a guy with no first name and a broke,non-politician Tea Partier...LOL. Hope you hang on to the business card of that PR firm that did those nasty negative ads for you. A nice little ad showing an unflattering picture of Mark Scappe with a Swastika in the backround oughta do it.On second thought,perhaps not, as the Tea Baggers might get confused and vote for him .Then again you could run on all your accomplishments in Harrisburg which would save money with 10 second commercials and match packs as opposed to fliers. Finally,the voters begin to wake up!
jokichastain April 26, 2012 at 12:14 AM
wouldn't scappe winning in november be like flipping off the new moon school board members?
Steve Bloom May 06, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Jokichastain, interesting point but the board members are too busy dragging their feet and delaying a decision on FDK even though it's May. So much for campaign promises being kept. Deeds not Words

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