Iovino Claims Win In South Hills-Area Election

Apr 2, 2019

Democrat Pam Iovino has won the special election in state Senate District 37, riding a tide of support from unions and Democratic officials to beat Republican D. Raja. 

 

"Thank you all for what you just did," Iovino told supporters at a Carpenters union hall overlooking the Parkway West. Thanks to the work of supporters, she said, "SD37 is blue again."

 

*This story was updated at 10:17 p.m.

 

The district, which consists of suburbs to the west and south of Pittsburgh, had been held by Republican Guy Reschenthaler, who was elected to Congress last fall. And it has generally been friendly to Republicans. The GOP, in fact, retained some open state legislative seats in the area as recently as last November. 

 

But grassroots activism, supplemented by a muscular union presence on the ground, turned the area around. 

 

The results came into focus fairly quickly Tuesday night, and by 9:30 p.m. the numbers in Allegheny County were strongly running in her favor. Iovino campaign staff told reporters that Raja conceded around 9:30 p.m. — even before results in Republican-friendly Peters Township were reported.

 

Unofficial results show that Iovino put up strong numbers in Mt. Lebanon — increasingly a Democratic bastion — while posting solid results elsewhere in Allegheny County. 

 

Iovino professed relief about the end of the race. "It's hard, and I'm really glad that part of it is over. [And] I really do want to get to work. It's the reason I [ran] to begin with."

 

But for many Democrats, this is just the beginning. The outcome, said state Senator Wayne Fontana, means "momentum" for Democrats, who hope to flip the Senate to Democratic control in 2020. The GOP currently holds a 26-22 advantage in the upper house. 

 

And Darrin Kelly, who leads the Allegheny Fayette Labor Council, was already pledging to take the fight to the GOP next year. "Now we're setting the target up north," he said. 

 

 

Iovino is a Navy veteran who held a top U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs post. Raja the chief executive of an information technology consulting firm. In recent days, both state parties sent mailers linking Raja to President Donald Trump.

Iovino will now finish out Guy Reschenthaler's term, which is slated to end in 2020. She said she intended to run to hold onto the seat.

 

"This is the job I want to retire from," she said. "And not next year." 

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9:30 p.m.

Initial returns show a close race in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in politically divided suburban Pittsburgh where the sides tested some national themes ahead of 2020's presidential election.

Tuesday's contest pits Republican D. Raja against Democrat Pam Iovino for a seat largely controlled by Republicans the past half-century, but the district is viewed as increasingly friendly to Democrats.

With about three-fourths of precincts reporting before 9:30 p.m., the race appeared close and neither candidate had declared victory.

Turnout was expected to be around 20 percent.

He's the chief executive of an information technology consulting firm. Iovino is a Navy veteran who held a top U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs post. In recent days, both state parties sent mailers linking Raja to President Donald Trump.

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8 p.m.

Polls are now closed in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in politically divided suburban Pittsburgh where the sides tested some national themes ahead of 2020's presidential election.

Tuesday's contest pits Republican D. Raja against Democrat Pam Iovino for a seat largely controlled by Republicans the past half-century, but the district is viewed as increasingly friendly to Democrats and has a Democratic registration edge. Turnout was expected to be around 20 percent.

On Monday, Republicans issued a robocall by Donald Trump Jr., urging listeners to vote for Raja.

He's the chief executive of an information technology consulting firm. Iovino is a Navy veteran who held a top U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs post. In recent days, both state parties sent mailers linking Raja to President Donald Trump.

Polls are open in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in politically divided suburban Pittsburgh where the sides are testing some national themes ahead of 2020's presidential election.

Tuesday's contest pits Republican D. Raja against Democrat Pam Iovino for a seat largely controlled by Republicans the past half-century, but the district is viewed as increasingly friendly to Democrats and has a Democratic registration edge.

On Monday, Republicans issued a robocall by Donald Trump Jr., urging listeners to vote for Raja.

He's the chief executive of an information technology consulting firm he helped start. Iovino is a Navy veteran who held a top U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs post. In recent days, both state parties sent mailers linking Raja to President Donald Trump.

Republicans control the state Senate, 26-21.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.