HARRISBURG — Conservative state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe wants everyone to know that he's heterosexual, has a wife, and doesn't want to be touched — at least not by a male colleague.
The Republican from Butler County made that very clear Tuesday during a meeting of the House committee he chairs.
Metcalfe's comments, captured on video, came after the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Matt Bradford of Montgomery County, was trying to make a point about a bill having to do with land use and, for a split second, put his hand on Metcalfe's left forearm. The two were seated side by side at a conference table.
"Representative Bradford," said Metcalfe, interrupting Bradford in mid-sentence. "Look, I'm a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife. I don't like men, as you might. But stop touching me all the time."
He then added: "It's like, keep your hands to yourself. Like, if you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don't."
A shocked Bradford — who, according to his official biography, is married to a woman and has four children — began laughing.
"We are officially off the rails," Bradford said, as his colleagues began erupting in laughter and one sitting next to him put her hand up to shield her face from a video camera. "My intent was just to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds."
"Then beg, don't touch," Metcalfe retorted.
Bradford responded: "I don't know where we go from here."
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Metcalfe said that Bradford for months has been "continually reaching out and touching me," and that he has asked him to stop.
"If someone touches another person, and they say, 'stop touching me,' and they don't stop, that's serious business," said Metcalfe.
Where he comes from, Metcalfe added, such behavior could constitute battery — and would justify someone defending himself.
Bradford, for his part, said that when he reached out to touch Metcalfe, he was simply attempting to "restrain him so I could finish my thought." Metcalfe has been known to shut down colleagues who talk for too long — or who express views that are antithetical to his.
Bradford was adamant about one thing: He was not making a pass at the Republican chairman.
"I have no idea what goes on in his head," Bradford said of Metcalfe, "and some days I'm glad for that."