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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 are now 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 , 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." 

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Scott Burrows April 26, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Good for Mr. Raja. It was gratifying to see the voters in the 37th Senate district get this one right.

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