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PA-10: Democratic Hopefuls Meet In “Civil” Debate

Democratic candidates for PA-10 debate

At least one observer described it as “the most civil debate I’ve ever seen.”

There were not many fireworks during Wednesday night’s debate among the six candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 10th Congressional District. But the group was unanimous on the fact that the District, comprising Dauphin, Cumberland and York counties, deserves better representation than what it is receiving from incumbent Republican Scott Perry.

The six candidates – Harrisburg City Council woman Shamaine Daniels, former TOPGUN fighter pilot Mike O’Brien, Carlisle school board member Rick Coplen, former WITF executive Blake Lynch, former TV anchor Janelle Stelson and businessman John Broadhurst – debated the issues with moderator Dennis Owens of host WHTM-TV for 60 minutes.

Perry was treated as a piñata during the candidates’ opening questions. “We have a representative that doesn’t care about you, doesn’t respect you, and only cares about his own political gain,” said O’Brien. “I’ve heard from people tell me that Scott Perry doesn’t listen to us, doesn’t represent us, and doesn’t care about us,” said Coplen.

Stelson was asked about the fact that she does not currently reside within the District’s borders, rather living in Lancaster. In one of the more newsworthy moments of the evening, she pledged to move into the District should she be victorious in November.

O’Brien and Broadhurst also recently moved to the area, while Coplen, Daniels and Lynch are longtime residents.

“As Marines, we’re taught to put ourselves at the point of friction,” said O’Brien. “It is here, right now.” Lynch stated that he has “more experience in the corporate suite and in the community than anyone on this stage.” Broadhurst claimed that he is campaigning on causes and not just to simply deal with consequences. He said that “in order to defeat a representative of MAGA, we have to ID the causes.”


Daniels highlighted the pandemic-era actions that Harrisburg City Council took to help small families and especially small businesses, as an area that she has impacted. Broadhurst focused on inflation, while Lynch spoke out against what he referred to as “his second mortgage” – child care. He said he and his wife spend $1,300 per month on child care for their 4-year-old and that something needs to be done to make it more affordable for all in Central Pennsylvania.

Coplen said that he wants to ensure that universal pre-K is fully funded and that a “living wage” goes from the current $7.25 to at least $15 per hour. A strong middle class makes us all stronger, said Stelson, who also agreed that the minimum wage must be raised. “I’d like to see state lawmakers and congresspeople live on the minimum wage for just a month,” she stated. O’Brien said he is a staunch defender and supporter of unions and that the country needs strong anti-monopoly and antitrust legislation to fight against big tech and big pharma.

Social Security

All six stood firm on their commitment to keeping Social Security solvent. Lynch spoke about seniors, saying “we made promises to them a long time ago and we must continue to make our commitment to all of you.” Coplen said that “we must make Social Security bullet-proof for all time,” while Stelson would not favor privatization or raising the age limit. Broadhurst called for increasing the tax rate on the wealthiest individuals, while Daniels added that healthcare should be a human right.

War in Gaza

If there were any differences between the six candidates, it came on the question of President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza.

Broadhurst and Coplen spoke about America’s need to lead. “America needs to be part of the solution. We’re not today,” said Broadhurst. “We’ve seen what happens when we step back and take an isolationist perspective in this country, commented Coplen. “We have to lead.”

O’Brien took a differing stance, stating that he is comfortable “that the Biden administration is putting right amount of pressure on Netanyahu government to make progress and he is holding them to account.”

All six support a ceasefire in the region and that Hamas must return all hostages safely.

Lynch called for a 2-state solution, while Stelson says she supports Israel’s right to “decimate Hamas, the terrorist organization that doesn’t even believe that Israel should exist.”

Daniels wanted to make it clear that “it was terrorists attacking Israel, not all Palestinians.” She, along with the others, said that the U.S. should be staunch allies of Israel.

Border Crisis

All six agree that the immigration concerns at the southern border of the U.S. must be dealt with and soon. But Broadhurst, Stelson, Coplen and Lynch identified the biggest hurdles to a solution – former President Donald Trump and Congressman Perry.

“MAGA extremists would rather not address the issue and keep it as a political football,” said Broadhurst. “We almost did have a deal until Donald J. Trump and Scott Perry called the deal off,” said Lynch, “because (Trump) would not get credit.”

Coplen agreed with Broadhurst and said that American is clearly stronger because of its diversity. Stelson criticized Perry, saying that while he went to the border, he did not offer any solutions and just pointed fingers at others. Daniels offered that Democrats need to “stop giving into the talking points of the far right.”


Many of the candidates used their time to remind voters that they have family members who are or have previously been teachers and administrators. Consensus was that public schools need to be fully and fairly funded.

Reproductive Rights

All six candidates support a women’s right to choose with no exceptions.

Minimum Wage

Once again, very little daylight as all six agreed that Pennsylvania’s $7.25 minimum wage must be raised. While Daniels, O’Brien, Coplen and Stelson mentioned that an increase to $15 per hour is a start, Lynch and Broadhurst took a different tack.

“I want to see a livable wage,” said Lynch. “$15 is not the same around the country. “Democrats are always asking for the very minimum and that’s a mistake,” said Broadhurst.

Assault Weapons

Four of the candidates indicated that they would support a national ban on assault weapons, while O’Brien and Lynch would not make that step.

“I’m for stopping the sale and transfer of assault weapons,” said O’Brien. “I don’t want to remove them from those who have already legally purchased them.

Lynch added that “we should regulate assault weapons and offer safe places to fire them. Don’t take them away.”

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