PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been a very visible race for state Senate between Jeremy Shaffer and Lindsey Williams, and now a war of words is heating up between the candidates.
Shaffer, a Republican, wants you to think one thing about Williams, the Democrat.
“She is a member of the largest socialist organization in the country,” Shaffer told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
In campaign ads and lawn signs, Shaffer and his campaign have worked hard to drive home the point that Williams is a socialist.
“I think it is an amazingly important issue,” the Republican state Senate candidate says.
It’s a surprising issue for a state Senate district that stretches from the North Hills to the Allegheny Valley and into the city in Highland Park.
Delano: “Are you a socialist?”
Williams: “I have always identified as a workers’ rights advocate. That’s what I will continue to identify as.”
Delano: “Are you a member of the Democratic Socialists of America?”
Williams: “I joined in order to seek the endorsement in the primary, but I did not receive the endorsement, nor do I have their endorsement now.”
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Williams says she sought the support of a wide range of groups in the Democratic Party, including the Sen. Bernie Sanders wing of the party.
“In a Democratic primary, you talk to all Democrats,” she says.
Williams is not surprised Shaffer is fixated on the word “socialist.”
“The way the word ‘socialist’ is often used is as a scare tactic,” notes Williams.
Shaffer wants voters to ask, is Lindsey Williams a socialist?
But Williams refuses to allow Shaffer to define who she is.
Delano: “Why can’t you say, I’m not a socialist.”
Williams: “I don’t want to say something that somebody else is trying to say about me. I want to define myself.”
But Williams says Shaffer, who defeated fellow Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Randy Vulakovich in the GOP primary last May, is a right-wing extremist.
“I would describe him as a far-right Republican,” says Williams.
Shaffer says he’s conservative, but adds, “The simple narrative of the other side is just to say that I’m a right-wing person, but I think that anyone who has looked at my record will see otherwise.”
And so it goes.