PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In just nineteen days, voters in the South Hills, western suburbs, and Quaker Valley will choose a new state senator in a special election.
But chances are good that most voters don’t know a lot about these candidates.
Why? Because most of their ads on TV trash each other.
KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano sat down with the candidates to get some more helpful information about who they are.
With the negative ads against each other, it’s easy to know what state Senate candidates Republican D Raja and Democrat Pam Iovino think about each other.
But who are they really?
Raja, who lost races for county executive in 2011 and state senate in 2012, says this race feels different.
“I’ve stayed in the game. I’ve been active in the community. I’m on a number of boards, and I think the community has gotten to know me over the past seven years,” says Raja.
“So I think that’s different, and the other thing that’s different, Jon, is that I’m embracing my immigrant story.”
At age twenty, Raja came to Pittsburgh from India to study computer engineering.
His first job took him away.
“When I was with Lockheed, they sent me to Silicon Valley. And after spending time there, decided Pittsburgh was home.”
“I loved it so much, I was like I’m going to come back and start up my business not far from where we live.”
A dot-com business became a successful software firm with five hundred employees, he says, and made the Pittsburgh immigrant a multi-millionaire.
“Very high tech, very highly skilled,” he adds.
Iovino’s story is quite different.
“I grew up in the very traditional sense in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in Baldwin-Whitehall,” says Iovino.
“Early on I went to Catholic school, but then a product of the Baldwin-Whitehall school district.
After college, Iovino made a somewhat unusual decision for a woman.
“I did something not unusual, very traditional, but we usually think of it for men doing it.”
“I’ll go in the service for four years. So I went off to Officers Candidate School and got a commission in the Navy,” she says.
23 years later, Iovino, the Navy captain and life-long Democrat, gets a call from U.S. Sen. John McCain’s office for a job in a Republican administration to be President George Bush’s Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
“I was very surprised. I was very surprised,” she adds.
Iovino was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for that job, and when done came home to Pittsburgh.
Both candidates have been clearly successful in their vocations even if their experiences are quite different.
While they do disagree on issues, neither appears to be as extreme or radical as they make each other out to be.
Voters in the South Hills, western suburbs, or Quaker Valley, will vote on April 2.