Mark Mustio ran a deplorable, ultimately unsuccessful, campaign for the Republican nomination for state Senate in the spring that raised such a troubling question about his fitness for office that the Post-Gazette withdrew its initial endorsement of him.
Six months later, Mr. Mustio, 55, of North Fayette, is in another contested race, this time for a fifth term in the state House, where he has represented the 44th District: Moon, North Fayette, Findlay, Ohio, Kilbuck, Ben Avon Heights, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Sewickley Hills, Aleppo, Osborne, Edgeworth, Haysville and parts of Robinson and Collier.
Mr. Mustio faces a challenger with enough local government experience to earn the voters' consideration.
Democrat Mark Scappe, 51, of Moon, was a member of the Moon Area School Board for 12 years, six of them as president, until he lost re-election in 2011. He does not retreat from his support for a new high school that he says was desperately needed, even though it hurt him with voters upset about the higher taxes that came with the construction.
Mr. Scappe is co-owner of an engineering and consulting firm and chairman of the Moon Transportation Authority, a key agency in a community dependent on nearby Pittsburgh International Airport.
Some may argue that it's unfair to judge Mr. Mustio in this election based on his actions in the last one. He told Post-Gazette editors in an interview last week that he regretted using the political advisers who crafted his race-based strategy against Senate primary opponent D. Raja. Yet he said he did not apologize to Mr. Raja, argued that Mr. Raja's campaign actively courted criticism of Mr. Mustio's tactics and -- in this he is correct -- conducted its own attack advertising.
But that is not the only issue.
If Mr. Scappe had been in the House, he said he would have voted for an extraction tax on Marcellus Shale gas, which Mr. Mustio opposes. Mr. Scappe would require owners to report lost or stolen guns to crack down on straw purchases, and he would close the loophole that lets Pennsylvanians who are denied a permit here to get one by mail from Florida. Mr. Mustio disagrees.
During his career in the House, Mr. Mustio has been a vocal advocate for funding autism research and help for families affected by it. He also pushed early and often for downsizing the Legislature, but we've still got a bad taste in our mouths from the primary election campaign.
The Post-Gazette endorses Mark Scappe, a promising alternative.