The Democratic nominee for outgoing John Pippy's state Senate seat southwest of Pittsburgh is dropping out of the race, likely making way for state Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, to run.
If Democratic committee members from Allegheny and Washington counties agree on nominating Smith, it will set up an intriguing race between him and Republican businessman D. Raja, also of Mt. Lebanon. Raja beat state Rep. Mark Mustio in a brutal primary election in April after losing the Allegheny County executive race to Rich Fitzgerald last fall.
Smith, an attorney who won his first House election in 2006, could not be immediately reached.
The current nominee for the 37th District seat, Greg Parks, filed papers with state elections officials today withdrawing from the race. "I will closely follow the nomination process to fill the Democratic slot in this race, and will offer my full support as Chair of the Pleasant Hills Democratic Committee to whoever is nominated -- beating Raja must be the highest priority for the person who succeeds me," he said in a statement.
Parks had to run a write-in campaign to get on the ballot. Pippy, of Upper St. Clair, surprisingly announced he would not run again in January, after the first round of new state legislative maps were issued.
Raja's forces will likely criticize the move as a backroom deal perpetrated by Democratic officials, and ask why Smith did not run for the seat in the spring.
The full statement from Parks, via the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, is below:Pleasant Hills - Today, Greg Parks, the Democratic candidate for State Senate District 37, filed paperwork to withdraw from the Senate race with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
"I was thrilled when thousands of voters from Allegheny and Washington Counties chose to write-in my name for the Democratic nomination to the State Senate," said Parks. "It is with a heavy heart that today I must withdraw my name for personal reasons that will not allow me to continue the campaign. I will stay active in public service, and will continue to fight for the ideas that inspired so many to support me in the primary, but today I must step aside so that someone else can continue the fight.
"I will closely follow the nomination process to fill the Democratic slot in this race, and will offer my full support as Chair of the Pleasant Hills Democratic Committee to whoever is nominated -- beating Raja must be the highest priority for the person who succeeds me.
"Finally, I want to close with a tremendous 'thank you' to everyone who helped with the campaign, who believed in what we were doing, and who offered kind words of encouragement over the last few months -- it is because of your unwavering support that I was able to continue in the race for as long as I have."
The Democratic Committees of Allegheny and Washington Counties will be scheduling a meeting to nominate a replacement for Parks in this race.