Archive

Attacks define state Senate race between Shaffer, Williams | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Attacks define state Senate race between Shaffer, Williams

Brian C. Rittmeyer
372918vnd38thSenatePreview9101818
372918vnd38thSenatePreview4102818
Jeremy Shaffer talks with Tarentum resident Mary McGee while knocking on doors Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018.
372918vnd38thSenatePreview11101818
Lindsey Williams, candidate for State Senate, takes a moment to pet Geno while talking with Brackenridge resident Tom Kristine, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2018. Williams was walking door to door in Brackenridge looking for the opportunity to talk with residents before the upcoming election November 6.
372918vnd38thSenatePreview2102818
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Jeremy Shaffer walks door to door in Tarentum Wednesday Oct 24, 2018, looking for the opportunity to meet residents before the up coming election November 6.
372918vnd38thSenatePreview10101818
Lindsey Williams, candidate for State Senate, shares a moment with Joe Lopreiato, 84, in his bakery Thursday, Oct. 26, 2018. Williams was walking door to door in Brackenridge looking for the opportunity to talk with residents before the upcoming election November 6.
372918vnd38thSenatePreview3102818
Jeremy Shaffer talks with Tarentum resident Kathleen Linderman while knocking on doors Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, looking for the opportunity to talk one on one before the November 6 election.
372918vnd38thSenatePreview8101818
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Lindsay Williams, candidate for State Senate, walking door to door in Brackenridge Thursday Oct 26, 2018. Looking for the opportunity to talk with residents before the up coming election November 6.
372918vnd38thSenatePreview1102818
372918vnd38thSenatePreview6102818
372918vnd38thSenatePreview5102818
372918vnd38thSenatePreview7101818
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Lindsay Williams, candidate for State Senate, glances through her notes while walking door to door in Brackenridge Thursday Oct 26, 2018.

Republican Jeremy Shaffer and Democrat Lindsey Williams have gone on the attack in their race to represent much of northern Allegheny County in Pennsylvania’s State Senate.

Republican mailings that have flooded the mailboxes of district residents have branded Williams as a radical socialist who wants to raise taxes. Democrats have accused Shaffer of breaking campaign finance rules, and one mailing claimed that he wants to cut public school funding and included a photo-shopped image of him holding a chainsaw.

“It seems they’re not afraid to go at each other,” said Kristen Coopie, an assistant teaching professor of political science at Duquesne University. “It’s really interesting the attacks that are being levied out there.”

The candidates are looking to replace incumbent state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, in Harrisburg. Shaffer defeated Vulakovich by 17 percentage points in the May primary, while Williams trounced Stephanie Walsh of Highland Park by 16 points.

Their race is one of only four across the state where an incumbent isn’t on the November ballot. Incumbents are unopposed in six state Senate races and face challengers in 15. Republicans currently hold a 33-16 advantage over Democrats in the Senate.

“I think our state government is broken,” said Shaffer, 41, a Ross commissioner. “We have the largest state Legislature and the most expensive state Legislature in the country. We definitely need reform.”

Williams, 35, is mounting her first campaign for elected office. An effort in Commonwealth Court to have her removed from the ballot claiming she hasn’t lived in the district for the constitutionally required four years was thrown out Wednesday.

“I’ve been doing legislative advocacy for years on behalf of workers, fighting for working families. I’ve been advocating for more resources for students in classrooms,” she said. “I’ve been increasingly frustrated pushing for better legislation from the outside. I wanted to be able to continue the fight I’ve been doing for the last 10 years in Harrisburg.”

Coopie said the 38th State Senate District is pretty evenly split between the parties, and that should make the race close.

“It all depends on turnout,” she said.

Because neither candidate is an incumbent, both have been busy knocking on doors and meeting with voters to boost name recognition and spread their messages in the district of 255,000 people. It includes a large portion of the Alle-Kiski Valley, a small section of Pittsburgh and suburban communities in Alle­gheny County’s North Hills.

Both candidates have raised lots of money.

Shaffer’s campaign raised just more than $1 million and spent $884,442 through Oct. 22, and it had nearly $150,000 in the bank, according to state campaign finance records posted online. As of Friday night, Williams’ latest campaign finance report posted online showed she had raised $54,757 and spent $24,706 through June 4. In a news release sent out Friday afternoon, Williams said her campaign raised $740,112 between June 5 and October 22 and had more than $350,000 in the bank.

Shaffer describes himself as an entrepreneur and business executive, and said the Legislature needs to be downsized. He said he would not accept perks such as a free state car and he supports term limits.

“We need to modernize our state government. We need to hold our government accountable,” he said. “I would have no problem downsizing the Legislature and losing my job.”

Shaffer said claims that he would cut education funding are lies.

“I highly value education. I am not in favor of cuts in education spending,” he said. “I fully support maintaining funding on public schools.”

Williams, a licensed attorney, said she is an advocate for workers’ rights and public education is a top priority.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of investing more in our public education and addressing issues with unaccountable charter schools draining money from the system,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to be done in that area to improve what our kids see every day.”

Williams said she joined the Democratic Socialists of America as she sought their local chapter’s endorsement in the Democratic primary. She didn’t receive it.

“I’m a Democrat. I’ve been a registered Democrat since I turned 18. I’ve voted in every primary, special and general election,” Williams said regarding claims that she’s a socialist. “I identify as a workers’ rights advocate. That’s what I want to do in Harrisburg.”

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review
staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.