D. Raja overcame a bruising back-and-forth campaign — during which one of his opponents accused him of sending jobs to India — to decisively win the Republican primary April 24 for the state Senate seat in the 37th District in Allegheny County, Pa.
There were no Democrats on the ballot, however, one Democratic Party candidate is banking on having received enough write-in votes to be listed on the ballot in the November general election.
In the GOP primary, Raja, a Mt. Lebanon business owner and former city commissioner, received 9,986 votes, or 43.7%, to 7,232, or 31.6%, for Sue A. Means, a home-schooling advocate.
In distant third place was state Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, Pa., who had made anti-India statements about Raja that drew criticism from leaders of his own party (Read: Race-Based Attacks on Indian American Candidate Backfire).
Greg Parks, 50, of Pleasant Hills, Pa., the Democratic Party candidate, missed the deadline to file his petition to qualify for the ballot, so he ran a write-in campaign.
A former member of the city council in Pleasant Hills and an instructional assistant at a local high school, Parks said he entered the race after he found out there were no Democrats running to replace outgoing state Senator John Pippy, R-Moon.
He said he will be informed in a few weeks if he received the highest amount of the 2,751 write-ins that were cast. According to state law, Parks needs a minimum of 500 write-ins from the primary to be eligible for the ballot in the general election.
Raja, who spoke to his supporters at the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South hotel in Bethel Park, Pa., on election night, said he would campaign for the November election, regardless if Parks is on the ballot or running a write-in campaign.
“Tomorrow is when the real work begins,” he said, according to Patch news service. “I was thinking we were going to have tonight to celebrate, but it looks like we’re going to head into a general election.”
“You were all here when no one believed in me,” Raja said. “With your support we’ll go to Harrisburg."
Raja in 2011 lost to Democrat Rich Fitzgerald in his bid to become Allegheny County chief executive. He is the owner of software firm Computer Enterprises Inc.
His campaign criticized steep corporate taxes in Pennsylvania. He pledged, if elected, not to accept a state pension and to push state lawmakers to adopt a 401(k) plan. He called his bid for the state Senate “the toughest race” he has waged, Patch said.
Mustio came under fire after his campaign distributed fliers with a map of India accusing the India-born Raja of outsourcing jobs there. Another flier featured a photo of Raja and his full first name, “Dakshinamurthy.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revoked its endorsement of Mustio because of the fliers. CEI has an office in India, but Raja said 94 percent of his business is in the U.S., including about 300 workers.
Mustio also ran for reelection to his statehouse seat in the primary. He drew 96 percent of the ballots running unopposed in the 44th District. He will face Democrat Mark Scappe, a former president of the Moon Area School Board, in the general election.
The 37th District includes the South Hills area in Allegheny County and Peters Township in Washington County. The boundaries may change, however, if and when redistricting takes place.