Smith to Replace Parks, Face Raja
Raja won a heated (and, at times, nasty) Republican primary in the race to replace retiring state Sen. John Pippy, a Republican who had represented the 37th district since 2003. But after his surprise upset victory, Raja now faces a new challenge: a new challenger.
Raja’s original Democratic write-in opponent Greg Parks filed paperwork today to have his name withdrawn from the race.
“It is with a heavy heart that today I must withdraw my name for personal reasons that will not allow me to continue the campaign,” Parks said in a press release. “I will stay active in public service, and will continue to fight for the ideas that inspired so many to support me in the primary, but today I must step aside so that someone else can continue the fight.”
It seems to have been part of a bait-and-switch maneuver that may have been planned from the beginning, with Parks’ knowledge and cooperation. Numerous Allegheny County Democratic sources have all said Parks is to be replaced by state Rep. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny).
Should Mustio have won, the Dems may be singing a different tune. But given the wide margin of Raja’s victory (12 points), the district is now seen as competitive and they are hoping to pick up the seat.
Mark Harris, general consultant for the Raja campaign, said that the candidate isn’t worried about having a new challenge to contend with.
“Raja looks forward to an open and honest debate about the future of the commonwealth. He’s committed to serving the people of the district regardless who the democratic insiders select.”
Raja echoed that sentiment, saying that regardless of who he faces, “I will continue working hard to spread my message of getting Pennsylvania’s economy back on track and I remain confident we will win in November.”
A source close to the campaign said that Raja will spend whatever is necessary to win this race.
In another interesting twist, Harris and Smith have a bit of history together. Harris lost to Smith in a 2006 state House bid, which could make this race that much more interesting.
Smith was unavailable for comment.