PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Half the Pennsylvania State Senate is on the ballot next week, but many state senators face little or no opposition.
That is not the case for one local state senator where the race has been visible and negative.
You can’t miss their television ads — Republican Raja versus Democrat Matt Smith — from day one Raja has been on the attack, accusing Smith of supporting higher taxes.
“We’re talking about his record in Harrisburg — the fact about his spending by $5 billion, new taxes by $2.4 billion, and debt by $2.7 billion,” Raja told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Smith says that charge is just plain untrue.
“I voted for enabling legislation and things like a cigarette tax, but never for a personal income tax, never for a sales tax increase, and certainly never for a property tax increase,” he said.
The battle is to replace former Sen. John Pippy in the 37th Senate District that stretches from the South Hills to the West Hills into the Quaker Valley and North Boroughs.
Smith says Raja is trying to distract from real issues like jobs where Smith says Raja has a record of outsourcing.
“He called outsourcing something that should be embraced and inevitable,” Smith says. “I don’t think outsourcing is something that should be embraced. I don’t think outsourcing is inevitable.”
Raja denies the charge.
“We have eight offices here, and many years later we have one office in India,” he said. “Ninety-four percent of my spending is in the U.S.”
On state funding of public education, Raja supports school choice for parents with children in poor-performing schools.
“From a business standpoint, competition makes all of us better,” noted Raja.
“He would be very comfortable I think taking money away from the public side. I think we actually need to make more investments in public education,” Smith responded.
Both campaigns say their polls show their guy ahead, which means nobody really knows who will win.
The district has more Democrats than Republicans, but a history of voting Republican.
One other local state senate race has generated some attention.
First-term Republican incumbent Sen. Elder Vogel is being challenged by Democrat Kimberly Villella in the 47th district in Beaver and Lawrence counties.
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