George Rattay, the new Democratic Committee chairman in Fayette County, admits he’s a little old school. But the 71-year-old political novice who boasts about still using a flip phone said he learns fast.
A political misstep at last week’s county fair earned him 15 minutes of fame. Rattay briefly offered people registered Democratic a chance to win a prize basket of Steelers gear or a day at Nemacolin Woodlands. The offer caused state GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio to file an election law complaint.
Wednesday morning, Rattay suddenly found himself at the center of a news vortex. The Associated Press, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News all reached out to him after the Tribune-Review reported DiGiorgio’s complaint.
“The last time I was on the front page of the newspaper was 50 years ago when I was seriously injured in Vietnam,” Rattay said. “When I went to Vietnam, I couldn’t legally vote or drink. I vowed then and there that if I got home, I’d always vote.”
He said he wasn’t aware that law prohibits offering inducements to register or change registration to a specific party.
“When they told me about it Tuesday, we took it down right away,” Rattay said.
But that wasn’t good enough for DiGiorgio, who on Tuesday issued a statement calling for Fayette County District Attorney Rich Bower to launch an investigation of potential election law violations. Bower said he has yet to receive anything from DiGiorgio and won’t consider the complaint until he receives notification.
“Once I get something, I’ll look at it,” Bower said.
Rattay was stunned with DiGiorgio’s complaint.
Although Democrats outnumber Republicans 43,432 to 26,794, in the blue county, Fayette has been bleeding red in recent years.
“They ought to be happy,” Rattay said. “Democrats are voting Republican here. We haven’t won an election in four years.”
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, [email protected] or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.