It is not surprising that an immigrant named Raja running for office as a Republican in Democrat-dominated Allegheny County would encounter difficulty in assembling a good campaign staff, but the shoddy work of D. Raja's campaign is nonetheless striking.
A current Raja television spot derides Rich Fitzgerald as a "career politician." Fitzgerald has never made politics his career. Fitzgerald's livelihood has for more than 25 years derived from a company he founded, Aquanef. Fitzgerald has been a county council member -- a part-time position that pays roughly enough to cover parking at the Grant-at-Forbes lot during council meetings -- for half as long as he has worked at Aquanef. These circumstances make Raja's "career politician" assertion a lie.
We would like to know more about Aquanef and its operations -- and, in particular, its relationships with government agencies and entities positioned to benefit from a county executive's decisions -- but Raja has ignored substance and instead chosen disingenuous cheap shots.
That advertisement also accuses Fitzgerald of imposing "the highest tax in the history of Allegheny County." This is either an intentionally misleading claim or a falsehood. If Raja refers to a tax increase, imposition of the Regional Asset District tax generated a multiple of the revenue associated with imposition of the drink tax. If Raja refers to gross revenue, county property tax revenues dwarf drink tax revenues. Again, Raja is working fertile ground -- Fitzgerald chose poor policy and procedure in imposing the drink tax -- but he ignores the hay and ventures into the weeds.
A candidate who resorts to lies a month before the election is desperate and, in this case, likely doomed. Raja's campaign staff seems incapable of arranging victory for its flawed candidate, but the Raja campaign is succeeding with respect to one tough task: It is making Rich Fitzgerald look good.
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