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Candidate: State Senate, pro-Biden rally canceled after threats of violence

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Rich Sterner, Democratic candidate for the state's 33rd Senate District.

A local Democratic candidate for state Senate this past weekend canceled a rally in support of himself and presidential contender Joe Biden in Gettysburg after receiving threats, he said.

The rally was called off Saturday after an anonymous caller warned organizers that "shots will be fired" if the event was held in downtown Gettysburg, said Rich Sterner, a Democratic candidate for the state's 33rd Senate District.

“I used to be a principal, and if you got a threat that there may be a bomb in the building or something like that, you took that seriously,” Sterner said. “I’ll take a bullet for anybody, but the problem is that if it misses me, it hits somebody else. And I have to live with that the rest of my life.”

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The 33rd Senate District includes Hanover, West Manheim Township and Penn Township. It also includes all of Adams County and parts of Franklin County.

Sterner, who is challenging state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, said that it remains unclear whether the threat was credible.

Mastriano did not respond to inquiries for comment.

Gettysburg Police told The York Dispatch on Monday that no police report had been filed and the matter wasn't under investigation.

Irish Whaley, leader of the group that organized the event known as "Save Our People," said she was the one who received the threatening phone call.

But similar threats have become commonplace since the group formed earlier this year, and it was "no big deal to me," Whaley said.

“They’re trying to stop you from having your rights,” she said. “People feel they can just pick up a phone, and that’s going to stop you. They’re not going to do anything.”

Sterner echoed the sentiment that threats have been common, saying it was the fourth threat that he has received during his campaign and that he wasn't surprised given the political climate in the U.S.

But the Democrat emphasized that he doesn't blame his opponent for the threats and has no hard feelings toward those with different political views, adding his campaign will continue as planned.

“Both sides know we all have passions, but we all need to give each other room,” Sterner said. “We all need to give each other some respect. And we all need to behave accordingly and value the ballot box at the end of the day.”

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.