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Dem write-in campaign for Pippy seat

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Democrats are launching a write-in campaign to get a former Pleasant Hills councilman on the 37th District state Senate ballot to face the winner of the nasty Sue Means, Mark Mustio, D. Raja GOP race in the South Hills.

Democrats didn't nominate a Democrat for outgoing state Sen. John Pippy's seat, so the state Democratic committee is sending mailers to South Hills Democrats urging them to type in the name of Greg Parks next Tuesday. Parks, a former teacher and Air Force vet, needs at least 500 valid write-ins for a chance to make the ballot.

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Mustio closing ad slams Raja for firing

Published by Laura Olson on .

It's closing pitch time, and the already-bloody state Senate battle between state Rep. Mark Mustio and businessman D. Raja has gotten even meaner.

The ad above from Mustio continues the outsourcing attacks from earlier TV spots, but this time interlaces snippets of Raja himself speaking. 

After repeated cuts of him saying, "I'm a businessman," the ad says he sent jobs overseas, was cited $133,000 for unnamed violations, and -- in another redux from the county executive race -- "sued an employee whose mother had cancer."

His company was involved in dozens of lawsuits with employees who left their positions without giving the advance notice required in their contract, including one ex-employee whose mother was sick, as City Paper reported in last year's contest.

On that claim, the ad features a shot of Raja answering questions from a television reporter after that story was published, saying his company "never sued anyone with cancer." Asked about a situation involving a particular employee who left his position due to a sick mother, he then says he was unaware that the employee's mother was sick when the suit was filed.

(Here are stories from WTAE and KDKA in which Raja was asked about the lawsuits after the City Paper story.)

The Raja campaign responded by describing the ad as "a new low."

"As Raja has gone door-to-door he has been encouraged by the outpouring of support from people who find Mark Mustio's attacks to be beyond disgusting and untrue," said campaign manager Jill Smith in a statement. "We remained focused on Raja's conservative vision for the future, and hope Mark Mustio will put an end to these vicious and baseless personal attacks."

When I went door-to-door with both campaigns recently, Raja would occasionally bring up the race's negative ads to a voter who appeared hesitant, and would offer a flyer disputing the claims about outsourcing. In a Whitehall neighborhood with Mustio, the ads only came up with one or two voters, who sounded disgruntled with political ads in general.

The Mustio camp may have offered a little foreshadowing of the ad last week -- his campaign Facebook page linked to this video on a YouTube page from Rich Fitzgerald's county executive bid. It features similar Raja clips on the employee with a sick mother.

That ad is not Mustio's complete final pitch to voters. PoliticsPA has posted another ad featuring more of Mustio himself, and hitting back on Raja's claim that he voted for the 2005 legislative pay raise.

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CookieGate: 7-Eleven responds

Published by Karen Langley on .

When Mitt Romney said he suspected a platter of Bethel Bakery cookies came from "the local 7-Eleven bakery or whatever," the landmark South Hills shop launched a "CookieGate" special

Today, 7-Eleven weighs in, with Margaret Chabris, director of corporate communications, sending over this statement:

Actually, Mitt Romney got it right – those cookies could have come from a 7-Eleven bakery.  More than 5,500 7-Eleven stores in the U.S. get cookies, donuts, muffins and other bakery items made fresh daily by 14 bakeries across the country that were developed for the purpose of serving 7-Eleven stores daily (365 days a year).  However, the 7-Eleven stores in the Pittsburgh area are operated by a company called Handee Marts Inc, an area licensee of 7-Eleven, Inc.  These stores do not have the fresh bakery delivered-daily program.

Four years ago, 7-Eleven also made Donkey and Elephant cookies during the presidential campaign as part our “7-Election” coffee campaign, which is more predictive than pundits and pollster on who will win the race.  We expect to do another 7-Election campaign this fall, and our licensees typically do participate. Stay tuned.

(Photo: adozeneggs.com)

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Pgh endorsement duel in AG race

Published by Laura Olson on .

It's a Pittsburgh sort of day for the two Democrats vying to become their party's nominee in the attorney general primary contest next week.

Former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane will be picking up support from Auditor General Jack Wagner at a 3 p.m. event at PPG Place.

And former Congressman Patrick Murphy will be getting Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto's backing at a 5:30 p.m. event at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty.

It's not their first set of similar endorsements -- shortly after Kane announced support from former President Bill Clinton (she had worked on his wife's 2008 bid), Murphy's camp had Obama advisor David Axelrod offer gushing words at a Philadelphia event (Murphy was an early support of Obama).

Also of note: both of today's endorsers have been mentioned as potential Pittsburgh mayoral candidates for next year, adding an interesting local undercurrent to their appearances.

Photo: Then-state Sen. Jack Wagner addressing City Council members in 2004. Councilman Bill Peduto is in the foreground. PG archives.

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Romney hates cookies; Internet responds

Published by Tim McNulty on .

A beloved South Hills bakery is using a stray snub from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Bethel Park yesterday to promote its cookies. (Jon Delano's report at KDKA-TV fanned the flames.)

The P-G's Janice Crompton has the story:

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney may have committed a Pittsburgh faux pas when he dissed cookies from the vaunted Bethel Bakery during his visit Tuesday to Bethel Park -- but the local landmark is making the most of the free publicity.

Comments on blog sites, Twitter and Facebook from insulted Bethel Bakery fans have since been blowing up, nicknaming the incident "CookieGate."

Julie Lytle, the bakery's sales and marketing assistant, said the popular local fixture since 1955 "turned a negative into a positive" by printing a sign offering customers a "CookieGate Special!" -- a free half dozen cookies with the purchase of a dozen cookies today and Thursday.

"I was a little shocked," said Julie Lytle, the bakery's sales and marketing assistant. "I didn't think too much of it at the time, and I didn't think it would blow up like it has. We decided to have fun with it and not to get offended."

Ms. Lytle prepared the variety tray of five dozen cookies when bakery owner John Walsh heard from his wife Chris late Monday that the governor was visiting the area.

Mr. Romney was at a staged event, sitting at a picnic table with four local couples at the Bethel Park Community Center.

The cookies were delivered to the roundtable lunch, which also included lemonade, chips and pretzels, by a municipal official.

Mr. Romney didn't taste any of the food, which Mr. Walsh thinks would have made a difference.

"I'm not sure about these cookies," Mr. Romney said. "They came from the local 7-11 bakery or whatever."

Tuesday's events didn't exactly endear Mr. Romney to Mr. Walsh, who said he thinks the comments were made in jest. Mr. Walsh said he's a Republican, but hasn't decided who to vote for in the next week's primary election.

Now he's hoping to persuade Mr. Romney to try some of his baked goods the next time he is in the area.

"I think that we just need to make him a Bethel Bakery fan," Mr. Walsh said. "He had no idea he was half a mile from one of the most beloved institutions in this area."

The visit was part of a brief stop in Pennsylvania that ended in Lancaster.

Even local GOP candidates were riled up by the slight, including Evan Feinberg, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, for his 18th Congressional District seat.

Mr. Feinberg said on his Twitter page: "Huge mistake. Bethel Bakery is an institution around here!"