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Pa. Senate Candidates Exchange Heated Words, Republican Accuses Democrat Of Being A Socialist

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's been a very visible race for state Senate between Jeremy Shaffer and Lindsey Williams, and now a war of words is heating up between the candidates.

Shaffer, a Republican, wants you to think one thing about Williams, the Democrat.

"She is a member of the largest socialist organization in the country," Shaffer told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

In campaign ads and lawn signs, Shaffer and his campaign have worked hard to drive home the point that Williams is a socialist.

"I think it is an amazingly important issue," the Republican state Senate candidate says.

It's a surprising issue for a state Senate district that stretches from the North Hills to the Allegheny Valley and into the city in Highland Park.

Delano: "Are you a socialist?"

Williams: "I have always identified as a workers' rights advocate. That's what I will continue to identify as."

Delano: "Are you a member of the Democratic Socialists of America?"

Williams: "I joined in order to seek the endorsement in the primary, but I did not receive the endorsement, nor do I have their endorsement now."

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Williams says she sought the support of a wide range of groups in the Democratic Party, including the Sen. Bernie Sanders wing of the party.

"In a Democratic primary, you talk to all Democrats," she says.

Williams is not surprised Shaffer is fixated on the word "socialist."

"The way the word 'socialist' is often used is as a scare tactic," notes Williams.

Shaffer wants voters to ask, is Lindsey Williams a socialist?

But Williams refuses to allow Shaffer to define who she is.

Delano: "Why can't you say, I'm not a socialist."

Williams: "I don't want to say something that somebody else is trying to say about me. I want to define myself."

But Williams says Shaffer, who defeated fellow Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Randy Vulakovich in the GOP primary last May, is a right-wing extremist.

"I would describe him as a far-right Republican," says Williams.

Shaffer says he's conservative, but adds, "The simple narrative of the other side is just to say that I'm a right-wing person, but I think that anyone who has looked at my record will see otherwise."

And so it goes.

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