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Meet the two Democrats hoping to unseat Rep. Daryl Metcalfe

Democratic voters in the Pennsylvania’s 12th state House district were introduced Saturday to the two candidates who are vying for the chance to unseat GOP state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who has served in the state House since 1999.

Daniel Smith Jr., of Adams, and Honora Rockar, of Cranberry, will face off in the May primary. They covered a bevy of issues during the Butler County Democratic Party’s candidate forum, including abortion rights, marijuana legalization, illegal voting and opioids.

Ms. Rockar is an adjunct professor of information systems at Duquesne University. She has lived in Cranberry since 2004. As part of her platform, she wants to place an emphasis on technology investments, business development and creating a more accountable and responsible government.

Mr. Smith, who is a manager at BNY Mellon, said he ran because he feels Mr. Metcalfe has not properly represented his constituents. He said he wants to bring a new focus to the local issues facing the district such as infrastructure and education.

“The job of a representative is to represent everybody,” Mr. Smith said. “His view is, ‘If you didn’t vote for me, you’re not my constituent.’”

Mr. Metcalfe, one of the most conservative members of the GOP-controlled legislature, is known for his boisterous outbursts that sometimes go viral.

Last month, the Butler Republican posted his opinions about the Parkland High School shooting and referred to student activists in quotes, echoing a false theory that the teenagers were paid actors rather than students at the Florida school where 17 died in a mass shooting last month.

“I totally applaud the students in Florida for their ability and strength to be able to come and protest and get laws changed,” said Ms. Rockar, who added that she would be in favor of legislation that bans the sale of automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

In December, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf asked GOP House leaders to demote Mr. Metcalfe for “offensive and discriminatory statements” he made during a meeting of the House State Government Committee, which he chairs.

He’s also drawn a rebuke from his Democratic counterparts for blocking bills that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Mr. Smith, who is openly gay, characterized Mr. Metcalfe as a “bigot” and “sexist.” Ms. Rockar, while not as pointed in her criticism, said, if elected, she will do everything in her power to protect LGBTQ rights.

Mr. Metcalfe dismissed Mr. Smith’s portrayal of him as a “nonsensical attack” that fits a narrative used to undermine him and his office.

“I look at every individual as someone who deserves respect and their rights protected,” Mr. Metcalfe said.

Tim Williams, 56, attended the forum and said he was impressed with both candidates and believes Mr. Metcalfe’s viewpoints and style of governance are antiquated.

“Sometimes when you’re in a position too long you get complacent,” said Mr. Williams, a 10-year resident of Cranberry and a registered Democrat. “This district is a growing area, and the representative needs to be open to more views.”

Mr. Metcalfe pointed to that fact that he has been repeatedly reelected as evidence he is in touch with his constituents’ concerns.

“I have a very strong record over the last 20 years on fighting on the behalf of my constituents in Harrisburg,” he said. “The results speak for themselves.”

Katishi Maake: kmaake@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1459 or @katishimaake

First Published March 24, 2018, 7:51pm

Source: Meet the two Democrats hoping to unseat Rep. Daryl Metcalfe