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PA-10: Candidates Spar on Israel, Gun Control and Voting Records in Debate

PA-10 Democratic candidates

If you were not sure who is considered the favorite in the race for the Democratic nomination for the 10th Congressional District, Wednesday night’s debate at York College of Pennsylvania made it very clear.

The six candidates met on the stage at the Waldner Performing Arts Center on the campus in an event broadcast by WGAL-TV.

And from the tone of the candidates’ responses, former WGAL news anchor Janelle Stelson was the target.


From the start of the hour-long debate, Stelson was questioned about her residence (Lancaster) as well as her voter registration record (Republican) and her support of a two-state solution in the Middle East. And whether it was direct fire coming from Mike O’Brien and John Broadhurst, or an occasional subtle jab from Blake Lynch, it was obvious that the camps were attempting to score points at her expense.

O’Brien repeatedly highlighted his experience as a top-gun fighter pilot and his commitment to values such as courage. But he was clear on what he felt the primary was all about – incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Perry.

“This primary is all about who can beat Scott Perry,” said O’Brien in his opening remarks. “For 20 years as a Marine as a top gun fighter pilot, as a Squadron Commander, my success depended upon character integrity and trust. As a Pennsylvanian and Marine, you can trust that I’ll hold Scott Perry accountable for the oath of office. (The one) that I upheld and that he betrayed.”

And when he wasn’t calling out Perry, he was lobbing charges against Stelson.

“The record shows that she voted in a Republican primary for over 20 years,” he said. “After January 6, 2021. Municipal elections. 2022 as well. The problem isn’t just that she voted for Republicans after January 6. It’s if we can’t trust her to tell us the truth about who she’s been voting for. Then how can we trust for what she’s gonna vote for?”

Lynch, a former WITF executive, called for a change in the District, saying he is the best candidate because “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.”

Broadhurst, an entrepreneur, said that Americans cannot be expected to cower in the face of fascism. “In times of crisis leadership requires three things, knowledge, conviction, and the ability to take on the status quo. This is exactly what I bring to the election. A vote for me is a vote for someone who cannot be bought, who is not going to Congress to be told what to do, or what positions to take and will constantly work for the working in the interests of working class Americans.”

Former Carlisle School Board member Rick Coplen touted that he was the only one on the stage that has won an election as a Democrat in a Republican district. “I offer my lifetime of hard earned wisdom as a West Point graduate, and 82nd Airborne Division combat veteran, an international Peacekeeper, a small business co-owner, a rural resident and farmer, a nonprofit leader helping veterans and other folks get better jobs, a teacher and a serving elected official for nine years.”

Coplen added that he feels Perry has failed the district on many levels.

“Just a few hours ago, my campaign sent out a mass email that said, what would happen and how would you feel about it if the South Bridge connecting Harrisburg with Cumberland County fell down tomorrow, just like what happened in Baltimore? And you know what Scott Perry said? ‘Well, you know what U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t be, paying this. It should be strictly the insurance from the ship companies. Well, bottom line, we could wait for years and years for that to happen. President Biden has taken the right action.”

Harrisburg city councilwoman Shamaine Daniels made a plea for selecting a known quantity over the remaining quintet, as she was the Democratic challenger to Perry in 2022. “Do you want our nominee to be someone you know, I can trust, shares your values? If that’s the case, I ask for your vote tonight.”

Stelson, to her credit, parried away most of the missives directed her way and sent her salvos directly at the incumbent.

“Congressman Scott Perry says he’s a fiscal conservative, but he voted against the government’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies which is going to save about $100 billion in fairly short order. For taxpayers, and also they’ll save the average person, the average family of $150 a month. I’d like to see that expanded beyond 10 drugs as soon as possible and beyond Medicare.”

The candidates did stake out differing opinions on certain issues.


Broadhurst led off the round of questioning by stating that the United States should cut off all aid to Israel, saying that the crisis in the Middle East did not start with the six-day war in 1967, nor on October 7. He called for the creation of a Palestinian state. Coplen agreed, supporting a two-state solution and an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Daniels called for more humanitarian funding, as did Lynch, who added that the U.S. should have been working with its allies to ensure the aid was reaching those who needed it most. Stelson agreed and also suggested work on a two-state solution.

O’Brien, a Jewish American, said that he stands by Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. “I’ve flown in combat. I’ve fought in wars. And what makes wars easier is when you dehumanize the other side. And that has to stop. That’s what I’m concerned about, a culture of dehumanization. There’s already been enough suffering enough trauma by civilians, both Israelis and Palestinians.

Gun control

Coplen and Broadhurst both said they support an assault weapon ban. O’Brien wants to implement stronger red flag laws and stronger universal background checks. Lynch called for gun manufacturers to be held accountable, while also stating that gun buyback programs do not work. Stelson said there should never be an instance when military grade weapons are being used by civilians.

4 Responses

  1. Stelson publicly stated no Military Grade weapons for civilians, the SIG Sauer M17 handgun is common and sold at any retail gun store. Seams like she is sneaky in her attempt to ban guns.

  2. Not sure why O’Brien made a point of brining up the fact that Janelle has voted Republican in the PA primaries. Since they are closed primaries. If she wanted to vote she no choice. Is he saying she shouldn’t have voted? Is he playing on the naivety of the voting public who may not know that?

    1. I think that’s a valid point—if she was voting in primaries, she was obviously voting for
      Republicans. I would be curious to know if she ever voted for Perry!

  3. I’m glad to see that we have a field of worthy opponents that can effectively challenge Perry. I can support the primary winner whoever it turns out to be.


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