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Philly state rep says he feels threatened by conservative lawmaker

Philadelphia state Rep. Chris Rabb writes a letter to the head of House security alleging that a conservative state lawmaker made comments that could be perceived as a threat.

State Rep. Chris Rabb
State Rep. Chris RabbRead moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Chris Rabb is taking no chances.

The freshman Democratic lawmaker from Philadelphia has sent a letter to the House's assistant chief clerk about an interaction that he perceived as threatening with a Republican colleague: state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), the conservative – and sometimes controversial – legislator from Western Pennsylvania.

The exchange, Rabb wrote, occurred after a divisive meeting last week of the House's state Government committee, which Metcalfe chairs. After the meeting, Rabb said he and Metcalfe argued about eleventh-hour changes that had been made to a redistricting bill, and that Metcalfe allegedly told him that "we'd have a very different conversation on the street."

"Such language," Rabb wrote in the April 16 letter, "is commonly used as a threat of violence. And being that it is widely rumored that Rep. Metcalfe carries a firearm on him inside of the Capitol complex, I take that threat very seriously."

He added: "I wanted to apprise your office of this threat so that all possible measures can be taken to ensure my safety while in the Capitol."

Metcalfe could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Rabb, however, tweeted a copy of his letter to his followers, and met with the House's chief clerk, who said he would review the matter and offered additional security.

Reached for comment Tuesday, House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin called Rabb's assertions "ludicrous, crazy."

He said that during the conversation the two legislators had after the meeting, Rabb  used profanity – including the word "bull-." Metcalfe, he said, responded by saying that he did not believe Rabb would speak to him like that if the two of them were having a conversation on the street.

"The Democrats on that committee go out of their way to try and needle…. they poke the chairman," said Miskin. "They poke and prod to get reaction out of the chairman and we are not playing that game. The chairman is not playing that game."

Rabb said he does not recall using the word "bull-." But he acknowledged that he cursed within earshot of Metcalfe after the meeting, during which Metcalfe championed an effort to gut a bill that sought to change how congressional districts are drawn.

"The problem that I have with people like Daryl Metcalfe is they pretend to be upstanding and they believe that because they don't curse, their vulgarity is any less awful. Their vulgarity is the racist policies and the rhetoric that they spew," said Rabb.

Metcalfe is no stranger to controversy, and has been unapologetic about his disagreement with – and, sometimes, aversion to – progressive causes. Just last December, he made headlines across the state when he proclaimed that he was a heterosexual who did not like to be touched after the ranking Democrat on the State Government committee, Rep. Matt Bradford, touched his arm while trying to make a point.

Metcalfe has also locked horns with Rep. Brian Sims (D., Philadelphia), the first openly gay person elected to the state legislature. During a heated exchange last summer, the Butler County representative said Sims called him racist and bigoted.