The results of the special election for the 37th Senatorial district—a seat left vacant when Guy Reschenthaler won the 14th congressional district race in November’s midterm elections—are in, and Democrat Pam Iovino is the winner.
In an election that spanned Allegheny and Washington counties, Iovino defeated Republican D. Raja, earning 33,310 votes to Raja’s 30,741 votes. Iovino picked up 52% of the vote, with Raja netting nearly 48%.
Iovino, a 23-year veteran of the United States Navy, was the assistant of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
Raja, who, like Iovino, is a native of Mt. Lebanon, is the chairman for the Allegheny County Republican Committee.
The only part of Washington County in the 37th district is Peters Township.
“It’s not a county wide thing,” Dave Bell, vice chairmen of the Washington County Republican Party, said, “but Peters Township is a very important part of the 37th district. In Peters Township, we have 37 republicans, so it’s important that we get all of those republicans out to vote.”
On the Democratic Side of the county, Ben Bright, chair of Washington’s democratic committee, expected a solid voter turnout all the way around in Peters, which he said is a predominantly Republican area.
“Both sides raise a whole lot of money in the special election, especially in this instance where it falls on a separate date,” Bright said. “Because this is over a month and a half of way form the [May] primary, people from all over the state are jumping on this race. Both sides have raised a lot more money than they would [in a normal election].”
While Bright was optimistic about the turnout, Bell feels special elections— even last year’s one between Tim Murphy and Conor Lamb held last spring— don’t get enough attention.
“Even that [election], in the papers, didn’t get a tremendous amount of play,” he said. “It’s not like the general election where there’s a dozen different candidate. If each candidate gets a small amount of mention, that’s a whole lot of mention. There have been articles in the papers comparing the candidates, talking about the candidates. It hasn’t been ignored, but it’s there.”
As for the candidates, while Bright didn’t comment on Raja or Iovino’s qualifications, Bell noted what he feels as drastic differences between
“I can’t imagine an election with two candidates who are any more different,” Bell said. “There’s virtually nothing that’s similar about them. Raja is a conservative Republican, and he supports businesses. He supports the energy industry. He supports growing jobs in the area. He will work to keep taxes low, [and] try [to] freeze taxes for senior citizens. Raja is a job creator. He’s a businessman who’s created a lot of jobs, He’s working for the future of our area. [Iovino] is a tax-and-tax-and-tax and spend democrat.”
Bell thinks Iovino’s victory is a bad sign for the people living in the 37th district.
“She will be a job killer,” he said. “If you want to have taxes and no future, there’s your candidate.
Iovino’s office did not respond to request for comment.