Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny) was one of Mark Mustio’s first endorsers when the state Rep. threw his hat in the ring to run for the seat of retiring Sen. John Pippy. But asked about the recent tenor of the campaign, the Congressman had kind words for Mustio opponent Raja.
“I have the highest respect for Raja, both his professional accomplishments and his public service. I know he is dedicated to our region,” Murphy told PoliticsPA.
It’s a simple message, and all-positive, but it cuts against one of Mustio’s strongest hits on Raja: that his company is sending local jobs overseas. And it comes amid murmurs of other Republicans who are unhappy with where Mustio’s campaign has gone in recent weeks.
The 37th district race has been a nasty one. Mustio has hammered Raja over outsourcing, and Raja has blasted Mustio for his 2005 vote in favor of the legislative pay raise.
But there’s also a racial component, as Mustio’s ads and mailers have repeatedly shown Raja in front of an Indian flag, bolden the word “India,” etc. A recent mailer spelled out his opponent’s name: Dakshinamurthy Raja. That’s his legal name, but D. Raja is what appears on the ballot and what he uses professionally and personally. Raja supporters ask what the purpose of using the full name is, if not the emphasize Raja’s ethnic background.
Murphy weighed in after all these developments. He has friends, consultants, and political allies on both sides of the race.
Sue Means, a homeschooling advocate and third Republican candidate, has largely stayed out of the fray. There is no Democrat on the ballot, but the party is organizing a write-in campaign.