Washington County’s Observer-Reporter Newspaper Endorses Raja

April 18, 2012

Editorial: Raja our choice for state Senate

John Pippy has ably served the state’s 37th Senate District, which includes Peters Township, but decided not to seek re-election. He is not seeking higher office but rather leaving politics altogether, and amid the partisan rancor, who can blame him?

Though no Democrat has stepped forward to seek his seat, three Republicans have: Mark Mustio, who is also running to retain his District 44 House seat; Sue Means, a Bethel Park resident and tea party supporter; and D. Raja, the entrepreneur and Mt. Lebanon commissioner who was recently defeated in his bid for election as Allegheny County executive. With no Democrats filing, the winner is nearly assured of victory in November.

Though all three can agree on a number of issues, like the state getting out of the liquor business, their backgrounds and qualifications are quite different. And we think that Raja is the best fit for the 37th District at this time.

Means is a former nurse who home-schooled her five children and earned a black belt in karate. She would like Pennsylvania to have a part-time Legislature and outlaw teacher strikes and the prevailing-wage requirement. Her main concern is to stop the state’s “out-of-control spending.”

Our editorial board found Means to be energetic and well-meaning but confused and ill-informed on important issues facing the state.

Mustio, on the other hand, is highly informed, having served in the Legislature since 2003. Pippy was his roommate in Harrisburg and has endorsed him to take his seat. His background is in the insurance business, and he served as a Moon Township supervisor.

Mustio is a proponent of downsizing the Legislature. He does not favor term limits but thinks they should be increased to four years in the House and six years in the Senate. He was one of only 10 Republicans to vote against House Bill 1950, out of concern that municipalities would lose zoning rights to oil and gas interests.

Our board found him to be knowledgeable and competent but probably better suited to continue representing his House district.

Raja (he explained that his first name is too unpronounceable and has too many syllables to be of any use) strikes us as both energetic and affable, a no-nonsense businessman who seeks to apply practical business solutions to social and political problems. He has won the endorsement of the Washington County Republican Committee.

If elected, Raja said he would decline to accept per diems and opt out of the state pension system. He believes the Legislature should set an example and convert to personal 401K accounts. “We need to lead by example,” he said. “How can you expect others (state employees and teachers) to do this unless we change?”

Raja doesn’t plan on a career in the Legislature, anyway. His main concern is improving the tax and regulatory climate for businesses, which in turn will create jobs, and with them the tax revenue the state needs to provide his three priorities: education, public safety and infrastructure.

We find Raja a refreshingly different sort of candidate deserving a chance to bring change to Harrisburg, and we hope Republican voters in the 37th District do as well.

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