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Planned debate between Republican incumbents in 86th House district canceled due to threat of violence

Rep. Perry Stambaugh and Rep. John Hershey were supposed to debate tonight, but the event was canceled due to a "credible threat of violence," the candidates said.
Credit: Photos courtesy of both candidates
State Reps. Perry Stambaugh (left) and John Hershey

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Pa. — A Friday night debate between two Republican incumbents for Pennsylvania's newly re-drawn 86th House District seat was canceled due to a threat of violence, both candidates said.

Rep. Perry Stambaugh said Friday he had to briefly close his New Bloomfield office on Thursday due to a "credible threat of violence" against him and his staff. 

The office was re-opened Friday morning, Stambaugh said on his campaign website.

The scheduled debate between Stambaugh and Rep. John Hershey, scheduled for Friday night in Newport, was cancelled by the event's sponsor, Perry Valley Grange, Stambaugh said.

Thanks to Pennsylvania's redistricting, Stambaugh and Hershey both find themselves in the same district, which covers all of Perry and most of Juniata counties. 

The primary race between the two GOP candidates has grown more aggressive as the election nears, with supporters of both candidates trading increasingly heated rhetoric online.

Neither candidate said exactly what the threat of violence entailed.

Stambaugh said on his campaign website that State Police and other law enforcement entities are investigating.

“It’s unfortunate that during the heat of the political season this incident has taken place and I call on my opponent, John Hershey, to join me in asking that cooler heads prevail," Stambaugh said. "In our country, everyone has a constitutional right to express opinions and share information without fearing for their safety."

In a Facebook post, Hershey said he condemns "any and all threats" and that he "(has) always wished, and will continue to wish, Rep. Stambaugh well."

Hershey added that he hopes the issue is resolved quickly.

"Unfortunately, negative campaigns inflame people and cause them to make stupid decisions: this is why I have run a positive campaign focused on my record and what I can do for the people of Perry and Juniata counties," he said. "No one on Team Hershey has any connection to any threats."

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