Vulakovich Wins Big in PA-40
Republican Committee of Allegheny County Chairperson Jim Roddey has come under fire for comments he made at Sen. Randy Vulakovich’s victory party speech last night.
During his remarks, Roddey referred to a person outside Monte Cello’s Restaurant in Allison Park as “mentally retarded” because he had an “Obama 2012” bumper sticker emblazoned on his vehicle.
In a press release, Allegheny County Democratic Committee Chairperson Nancy Mills called for Roddey’s resignation because of his controversial comments.
“Jim Roddey’s comment was offensive. I’m calling on him to resign and hope the GOP joins me because this is not the type of leadership we need in Allegheny County,” Mills said.
“If I made a comment like that my own friends would have called on me to step down immediately. Furthermore, Mitt Romney needs to show leadership and hold his supporters like Jim Roddey accountable for their attacks. Romney should join me in denouncing Roddey.”
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Republican state Rep. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) easily won Tuesday’s special election in PA-40 by a 3 to 1 margin, thanks to better GOTV efforts, better endorsements and strong financial backing from the state party in the conservative-leaning district.
Vulakovich, a former Pittsburgh-area police officer, defeated Democratic health care consultant Sharon Brown in a race to replace ex-state Senator Jane Orie, who was convicted in March of corruption and is serving a 2-and-a-half to 10 year prison sentence.
This was the first special election in the history of Allegheny County to be held as late as August, which could account for the low turnout of roughly 10 percent.
The last special election was held there was in 2006, when Shawn Flaherty won against Mike Dolan. Vulakovich won the primary and defeated Flaherty in November, replacing former State Rep. Jeff Habay, who was convicted of charges similar to Orie.
During his election party at Monte Cello’s Restaurant in Allison Park, Vulakovich reflected on his role as a state legislator in Pennsylvania.
“You elect us, you look up to us to be that voice for you and you not only elect us to work for you, and believe me, we work hard,” Vulakovich said, “but you also elect us for our judgment.”
PoliticsPA could not reach Brown’s campaign for comment.
Vulakovich will serve until 2014, leaving a vacancy in his PA-30 seat.
Despite his state Senate victory, Vulakovich had some choice words for Democrat David Tusick, his re-election opponent in the 30th district.
“My opponent, David Tusick from Fox Chapel, showed up at the polls today – this was a poll between me and Sharon Brown – he put up his signs up there just like he was running for office, and when people came out, he handed them information about himself,” Vulakovich said.
“I have never, ever seen that before. His election is in November and he was treating this like it was his election.”
But now that state Rep. Vulakovich is now state Sen. Vulakovich, the question now is who will be his replacement in HD-30 to go up against Tusick?
Vulakovich has until Aug. 13 to remove his name from the ballot, and then local GOP will meet to nominate his replacement candidate.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, some of the names being circulated include Vulakovich aide and Shaler commissioner David Shutter, Pittsburgh Tea Party leader Patti Weaver and Allegheny County GOP committeeman Mike McMullen.
McMullen said he has been eyeing up the seat for some time, but that he is at heart a team player and that if the party finds a better candidate, so be it.
The Republican candidate faces an immediate disadvantage to Tusick, who, as Vulakovich said, made his name known yesterday. And, with only 11 weeks left until the election, it’ll be difficult for any candidate to mount a formidable campaign and generate publicity.
Vulakovich and Allegheny GOP Chair Jim Roddey told the Post-Gazette they have endorsed attorney and Marine Corps veteran Hal English to be Vulakovich’s replacement.
Kelly Cernetich contributed to this report.