Election 2012/South: House, Senate election results

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Here are the winners in some state races of interest to residents of the South Hills. All vote totals remain unofficial. More election coverage appears elsewhere in today's newspaper.

State Senate 37th District

Republican D. Raja and victor Democrat Matt Smith, both of Mt. Lebanon, battled to fill the seat vacated in June by John Pippy. Mr. Pippy, a Moon Republican, represented the district for nine years and stepped down in June to head the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, a newly created industry group.

Vote totals were 65,262 for Mr. Smith, 55,693 for Mr. Raja.

This race marks another loss for Mr. Raja, 47, CEO of his own software company and a former Mt. Lebanon commissioner, who was the unsuccessful GOP candidate for Allegheny County executive last year.

Mr. Smith, 40, entered in the race in July and has served three terms as a state representative in the 42nd District, a seat representing parts of six municipalities and as many school districts. He'll leave that seat behind next year and a special election will be held to replace him.

The 37th District includes towns in the South Hills, along the Ohio River and around Pittsburgh International Airport, as well as Peters in Washington County, where Mr. Raja took more votes.

Mr. Smith campaigned on the idea that he could further achieve goals he started when elected to the House in 2006, including reducing the size of the General Assembly, passing crucial education legislation and providing tax credits for green buildings.

At a celebration at Walnut Grill restaurant in Mt. Lebanon, Mr. Smith, joined by his wife Eileen and their three young children, praised supporters while election results piled in. He acknowledged the challenges of this race, marked by negative advertising and, he added, being outspent by his opponent.

"Certainly this campaign, more than most, had its trying moments," Mr. Smith said.

Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, who celebrated his re-election at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Bethel Park in the ballroom next to Mr. Raja's, called the Mt. Lebanon businessman "a great friend and a very hard worker."

Mr. Raja, who stood with his wife, Neeta, and their two young daughters, thanked his supporters in a quick speech and said he had congratulated Mr. Smith on his win. He promised to remained involved in his community.

"I feel the need to serve, and I will do it in whatever manner is possible going forward," he said.

-- By Molly Born and Kaitlynn Riely

State House 49th District

Incumbent Democrat Peter J. Daley, 62, a lawyer and 15-term legislator from California, Pa., eeked out victory over Republican businessman Richard Massafra, 51, of Monongahela, who challenged Mr. Daley for the second time in as many years.

Mr. Daley received 11,906 votes -- more than 54 percent -- to Mr. Massafra's 9,877.

Through most of the election season, the top issues in the district, which includes most of southern Washington County and the Mon Valley in Washington and Fayette counties, had been jobs and energy independence, especially involving coal and natural gas.

But in recent weeks, conservative groups, including the Pennsylvania Republican Campaign Committee, dumped "at least $400,000" into the race, Mr. Daley said, with television and radio ad purchases and an unprecedented 25 mailers.

It was an astonishing amount to spend on the race, said Mr. Daley, who estimated that he spent about a quarter of that, or about $100,000.

"These were outside groups from Washington, D.C.," Mr. Daley said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Daley said he remained cautiously optimistic most of the night.

"I'm confident," he said. "My people worked hard."

-- By Janice Crompton

State House 50th District

Democrat Pam Snyder, 56, defeated Mark Fischer, 51, in this race to replace political icon Bill DeWeese, who represented the area for nearly 40 years, but is now serving prison time for corruption charges.

In her second bid for the legislative district seat, Ms. Snyder of Jefferson, Greene County, gathered 12,645 votes Tuesday, over Mr. Fischer's 7,774. She is also serving her third four-year term as chairwoman of the Greene County commission.

As results showed her leading Tuesday night, Ms. Snyder said "the key was having a district of people that have known me my whole life, have watched me my whole life in the public arena."

The district includes all of Greene County.

"Voters right now want someone that they know, trust and can have faith in," Ms. Snyder said.

Mr. Fischer, 51, is a first-term Waynesburg councilman, business manager of commercial rental properties and owner of Fisher Antiques in Waynesburg.

Ms. Snyder said in earlier interviews that she supports recommendations in a report from Gov. Tom Corbett's advisory committee that called for raising drivers' license and registration fees but not on lifting the ceiling on gasoline taxes to raise $2.5 billion over five years.

Though not in favor of the state establishing zoning for local communities, she is pleased with the $3.1 million Greene County collected in impact fees established by Act 13, which created a per-well annual fee, changed regulations and outlined which parts of the drilling industry can and cannot be regulated by municipalities.

-- By Molly Born

State House 51st District

Voters in this Fayette County district cast their ballots overwhelmingly to retain Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney, 55, of South Union, who slid to an easy victory over his Republican challenger, Uniontown Councilman Gary Gearing by 12,725 votes to 7,356 votes.

Mr. Gearing, 56, had run for the seat three previous times, including as an Independent in 2004 and 2008, and as a Democrat in 2006.

Though he philosophically identifies as an Independent, Mr. Gearing said he ran on the GOP ticket this year to improve his chances of success and to be part of the political discourse, especially in debates and in the primary election.

But Mr. Mahoney, who secured a third term in office, said he had no intention of debating Mr. Gearing again and believed voters had seen the two lock horns so many times over the years that there was no doubt where they each stood on the issues.

Since being elected in 2006, Mr. Mahoney was the chief architect of two popular pieces of legislation -- the so-called Castle Doctrine and 2008 Open Records Law -- that brought dramatic changes statewide.

Mr. Mahoney engineered the new records law as a freshman legislator, passing the first substantive changes in the law in more than 50 years.

Last year, he sponsored the Castle Doctrine, an updated law that expanded a person's right to use deadly force inside or outside of his home or vehicle if he is being threatened.

-- By Janice Crompton

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