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Pa Dems Focusing on Allegheny County Exec Race

By Natalka Karaman, Contributing Writer

Someone or something has turned the head of Pennsylvania’s proverbial donkey and focused it on the Allegheny County executive race.

The state Democratic Party apparatus turned up the heat in recent weeks, issuing several press releases alleging that Republican D. Raja’s record of outsourcing has had a negative effect on employment trends in his companies.

“Raja strives to be America’s number one outsourcer at a time when we need good jobs for Pennsylvanians,” said Mark Nicastre, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.  “But like a typical politician, now that Raja is running for office, he’s trying to hide his history of outsourcing despite the fact he tripled the size of his operations overseas.  Raja even said he wants 80 percent of his total revenue to come from outsourcing.”

Nicastre also criticized Raja on the basis of employment statistics, contrasting Raja’s 2008 claim of employing 450 people with an April 2011 statement indicating that his company employs just over 300.

Raja campaign manager James Genovese surmised that the state party’s involvement meant the race in the heavily Democratic-leaning county is a close one.  “We will continue to put Raja’s vision for Allegheny County in front of the voters and show the clear contrast between Raja and [Democratic candidate Rich Fitzgerald].”

Fitzgerald’s close ties with state Democratic Chairman Jim Burn, an Allegheny County native, may also have something to do with the focus on the race. Burn grew up in Millvale, a suburb of Pittsburgh where he served as mayor for 12 years before moving on to the Allegheny County Council. He recently took over as President, having taken the reins from close colleague Rich Fitzgerald (when Fitzgerald decided to run for county exec).

Mike Mikus, Fitzgerald’s campaign manager, has said that Rich and Jim are very close and have worked together on County Council and on Democratic elections in Allegheny County as well as across the state.

Mikus also commented on the importance of the Allegheny rcounty exec ace and what Pa Dem’s attention must mean: “It says that Western Pennsylvania – and Allegheny County in particular – is very important to the success of Democrats across Pennsylvania. Rich is running a very strong campaign and he appreciates the support he is receiving from the party.”

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