SD-37: Dems Select Iovino, GOP Picks Raja
Let the race begin.
Yesterday, the Democrats and Republicans gathered to select their nominees for the upcoming special election in the state’s 37th state Senate district.
The Democratic committee members recommended Pam Iovino, a Navy veteran residing in Mt. Lebanon, to be their nominee. She bested Dr. Bob Solomon, an emergency room physician, 137-115 on the first ballot according to WESA. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Democrats “expected to go to multiple ballots,” but the third candidate, Olivia Benson dropped out of the race during her speech to the committee and announced her own bid for auditor general in 2020.
— Pam Iovino (@pamforpa) January 27, 2019
The GOP conferees nominated D. Raja, Republican Committee Chair of Allegheny County, on the first ballot as well. Raja captured 41 votes, while Devlin Robinson, a South Hills businessman and Marine Corps veteran, finished in second place with 27 votes.
THANK YOU to all the conferees who voted for me. I am honored and humbled. We are ready to win — and I will not let you down. -Raja https://t.co/HzBFguc3DO
— Raja for Senate (@RajaForSenate) January 27, 2019
WESA reports that both Iovino and Raja were “perceived as frontrunners” in their respective races for the nomination.
The special election set for April 2, was due to former GOP state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler winning his bid for U.S. Congress in the 14th District over Democrat Bibiana Boerio this past November.
Reschenthaler represented the 37th state Senate District in Western PA since 2015 by winning a special election after state Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) resigned to become the president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
Raja was previously the GOP nominee for this seat in 2012, but lost to Smith in a close race.
Iovino was most recently a candidate in the Democratic Primary for Pennsylvania’s old 18th Congressional District, which Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny) went on to win over Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone.
Both candidates expressed optimism for their chances to capture this closely watched race.
“I believe with a good field organization and a good message, that this seat can be easily flipped back to the Democrats,” Iovino said according to WESA.
Raja detailed sharing a clear message to the voters that will help him win.
“The first thing I’m going to do is sort of define myself. I think the last time what happened is I was being defined by the opposite side,” he said according to WESA. “I’m a moderate, but I’m a conservative,” he said. “I am certainly looking to motivate the base to come out.”