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Updated: Weaver Drops Out of Allegheny Exec Race, Raja Emerges as Front Runner

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Tea Party leader Patti Weaver has dropped out of the race for Allegheny County Executive, making businessman and Mt. Lebanon Township Commissioner D. Raja the front runner for the GOP nomination.

Weaver, a conservative organizer and CPA with an MBA from Harvard, cited fundraising as her primary reason for pulling out of the race. She officially filed to withdraw this afternoon at the Allegheny County Courthouse.

“Winning this office takes a formidable combination of the right ideas, a strong grassroots organization, and, yes, the necessary financial resources in order to run an effective campaign.  I am honored at the tremendous support my candidacy has received from Tea Party members, local Republican leaders and concerned citizens, but the financial support has been slow to follow and is severely lacking.”

“I’m disappointed she got out of the race. I think she’s have done very well,” said Allegheny County Chairman Jim Roddey. “Before anyone else had decided to run, I was one of the people who talked to her and encouraged her to run. We had a discussion about fundraising then, and I assume that’s the primary reason she got out.”

Roddey explained that he took a neutral stance once more than one candidate had declared for the seat.

D. Raja

Weaver endorsed  Bob Howard for County Comptroller, and Ned Pfeiffer for County Treasurer, but declined to endorse in the Executive race.

Weaver’s exit almost certainly brightens prospects for Raja, who, according to Allegheny GOP insiders, is a favorite for the nomination. He has spent considerable sums of personal wealth on previous campaigns and he’s pledged to do the same this time. Indeed, his recent momentum gaining Allegheny Republican endorsements is speculated as another reason for Weaver’s exit.

“Patti Weaver’s activism for conservative causes and bringing accountability to government of all levels is inspiring to many, including myself,” said Raja in a statement. “I look forward to her continued involvement in the political sphere fighting for the values we share. I hope to bring those commonsense policies to county government.”

Raja also boasts the consulting help of Toomey Campaign Manager Mark Harris.

“We’ve been working hard to win the nomination and preparing for a 3-way primary, said Harris. “Patti’s withdrawal was certainly a surprising development.”

Chuck McCullough

Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough is also a candidate for the Republican nomination. McCullough has strong name ID, but not the good kind. This is the second link that appears when one Googles his name: “2 Political Junkies: McCullough Arrested,” which gets worse when you click on it.

“A county grand jury today handed up a 52-page presentment that alleges Mr. McCullough, an attorney, and his sister, Kathleen A. McCullough, bilked money from the $14.5 million trust fund of an Upper St. Clair widow, Shirley H. Jordan, 90,” it reads, quoting from the Post-Gazette.

That said, McCullough has a golden Irish name and a history of beating the establishment. His odds are much longer in a two-way race verses one with three contenders, but he is not to be counted out.

In either case, both candidates can avoid the political liability of a race to the right in Democratic-leaning Allegheny County, something that would have been inevitable had Weaver stayed in.

Note: this story was updated to include comments from Allegheny GOP Chairman Jim Roddey.

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