I was pleased to read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorsement of State Rep. Matt Smith for the 37th District State Senate seat, particularly as it prominently notes the negative campaign being waged against him and how ill-informed Smith opponent D. Raja was found to be on a number of key issues ... again.
If the editorial is unfair in any way to Mr. Raja, it is that it does not hold accountable the distortion artists of the State Republican Committee, which has orchestrated and funded much of the slime-slinging. While the party has sought to do in Rep. Smith, the Raja campaign, to my knowledge, has not lifted a finger to urge that the ads be stopped nor spoken out against them, the credo of "anything to win ... anything" apparently having taken hold. It is ironic and sad that Raja, who was the target of a slime campaign in the spring primary election, is now the oppressor.
I would note that although the Post-Gazette properly notes that Raja was first out of the gate with negative spots, the Smith campaign has responded with one, something which I do not support and which troubles me as two wrongs do not make a right.
On issues of importance to the 37th District, I would note that as State House Finance Committee Republicans conspired to kill the most recent property tax reform/relief bill in the Finance Committee, Rep. Smith, a Democratic leader on the committee, voted to send the bill to the floor. The final vote was 13-11 against, nine of the 13 votes coming from Republicans.
On a personal note, I must give consideration to the fact that although I have never been a constituent of his, Rep. Smith has given me the gift of his time and attention, having corresponded with and met me to discuss issues of importance. Smith has been more responsive to me in recent years than my own State Representative and Senator. Despite numerous contacts attempted with him, Mr. Raja has apparently been too "busy" to engage me.
My fiscal conservatism would place me more in the ideological camp of Mr. Raja, but making the proper choice in this election is not that simple for me. Honor, integrity, responsiveness and other issues not related to fiscal matters factor into the equation as well. For that reason, I am leaning heavily toward proudly casting a vote for Matt Smith for State Senate.
May those whose hallmark is attack ads with no positive message receive their comeuppance in this election and future contests.