Longtime Pa. Rep. Metcalfe will face write-in challenger

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HARRISBURG -- State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, one of the state House's most outspoken conservatives, faces a write-in challenger in the May 20 primary election.

Gordon Marburger, 57, of Adams, Butler County, would have appeared on the Republican ballot, but the state Supreme Court earlier this month ordered his name stricken due to an error in how Mr. Marburger filed the requisite paperwork to run for office.

Mr. Marburger, who is serving his third term on the Mars Area school board, describes himself as pro-life and pro-gun and says he has similar views to Rep. Metcalfe on many issues -- though he said he differs on transportation funding and Mr. Metcalfe's approach to projects in his home district.

Mr. Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, has been vocal in his opposition to a $2.3 billion transportation package passed by the Legislature last fall that was championed by Gov. Tom Corbett, a fellow Republican.

"I opposed the Corbett gas tax increase. I continue to oppose the Corbett gas tax increase," Mr. Metcalfe said, referring to the lifting of the cap on the oil company franchise tax, a key method of raising revenue in the bill, which critics -- among them Mr. Metcalfe -- said would be passed on to consumers at the pump.

Mr. Marburger said he would have voted for the bill, and that there are road projects in the district he hopes will benefit from it -- such as the potential widening of Freedom Road, Rochester Road and state Route 228.

Mr. Metcalfe, who has served his district since 1999, is known in Harrisburg as a vocal conservative who is outspoken against gay rights issues and is often critical of Mr. Corbett.

He has made headlines for recently convening a hearing in a long-shot attempt to impeach state Attorney General Kathleen Kane for her refusal to defend the state's law banning same-sex marriage.

He also drew national attention last year for attempting to deny an openly gay state representative the opportunity to speak on the House floor after a landmark Supreme Court decision, saying the remarks would have been "just open rebellion against God's law."

Mr. Metcalfe said his top priorities are ensuring government "lives within its means" and fighting to reduce taxes. He said he believes his conservative stances have the support of his district's voters.

"I've been elected eight different times," he said. "Do I have the support of people in Butler County? No one's ever come close to beating me."

Mr. Marburger said Mr. Metcalfe should be more attentive to local roads and other local projects.

"We really need to be focusing more on what the 12th District needs," he said.

Mr. Marburger said he knows he has an uphill battle without his name on the ballot. "We're trying to get the message out that there's a write-in candidate," he said.

The 12th House district includes part of Butler County, including Cranberry, Adams, Forward, Penn, Middlesex and Clinton townships.

Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.

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