“Have you ever tried to drive on Freedom Road during rush hour?” Daniel Smith asked me when we first met earlier this summer. “The traffic is ridiculous; it has been for years. That’s why I’m running for this seat. Daryl Metcalfe doesn’t work for the constituents of this district.”
You don’t have to live in his Butler County district to know who state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is. In fact, if you live outside the district you know him as an extreme right-wing homophobic, xenophobic obstructionist who uses his religious beliefs and narrow worldview as a cudgel to beat down anyone he disagrees with.
He has spent his career blocking all legislation brought forward by Democrats and has single-handedly kept important quality of life legislation from ever reaching the house floor. He blocked medical marijuana for years, he has long blocked civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community and he has held countless public hearings over his career to denigrate and otherwise shit on undocumented immigrants. He has kept important legislation tied up in gridlock.
Just like the traffic on Freedom Road.
If you live inside Metcalfe’s district you see the same things as the rest of the state, but you also see a state legislator who doesn’t fight for your needs. In Cranberry Township, for example, there’s a two-lane stretch of road where at least four lanes are needed to handle the daily flow of traffic of this township that has grown rapidly in the past 20 years. Smith and others in the district say Metcalfe’s refusal to help get district projects like this funded at the state level is the main reason he needs to go.
“The fact is Daryl has done nothing to bring money back to this district for important projects. But we’re not asking for a government handout. We pay taxes and we watch our tax dollars go to fund products all over the state,” says Smith, an openly gay Democrat who says he can beat Metcalfe because he’s focusing on the needs of the district. “The money is not brought back here and we need a representative who prioritizes this district.
“In this district we care about our roads and that proper funding is brought back to our schools and our emergency service agencies. When they call the roll at school or when the EMT comes to help you, they don’t ask you if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Local issues are nonpartisan.”
A lot has been made about whether Smith’s sexuality would hinder his chances of winning in such a conservative district. But, he says, he has made it a point to knock on the doors of Republicans to talk to them about his campaign and they have been receptive. Metcalfe, meanwhile, has tried to make Smith being gay an issue, but Smith says it hasn’t gotten a lot of traction. But the ploy should come as no surprise since the man has repeatedly spewed hate at the LGBTQ community, including calling openly gay state Rep. Brian Sims a “lying homosexual” and went batshit crazy when a Democratic colleague innocently touched Metcalfe’s arm during a committee meeting. He has also refused to shake Smith’s hand.
Smith’s assessment has been bolstered by many local officials including Republican Cranberry Township Supervisor John Skorupan. Skorupan told Philly Magazine this past summer, “We’ve never had Mr. Metcalfe’s support for any of the initiatives that we’ve put forth to try to get some of our taxes back from Harrisburg for this road construction … so we don’t even go to him anymore. I don’t think there are many people who want to work with him. He’s not working to get money back to his district, that’s for sure.”