- Associated Press - Friday, May 2, 2014

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) - A well-known name in state politics faced off in a debate Friday with two political newcomers who portrayed him as personifying big government and spending in Washington.

While the three Republican candidates for the 9th Congressional District - incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, Art Halvorson and Travis Schooley - seemed to agree on many cornerstone GOP platform issues, they openly argued when it came to the party’s record and Shuster’s 13 years in Congress.

“We need people who will stand up to the establishment and not join them,” Halvorson, a Coast Guard veteran and real estate developer from Manns Choice, told the crowd of more than 300 people at the debate on Penn State’s Altoona campus.

Halvorson, who has ramped up his campaign with TV ads this week, accused Shuster of carrying on an insufficiently conservative family dynasty.

Shuster, of Hollidaysburg, is running for his sixth two-year term in the state’s most conservative district. He has been a congressman since he succeeded his father, Elmer “Bud” Schuster, in 2001. Bud Shuster had held the seat since 1973.

Shuster painted Halvorson as an ill-informed carpetbagger, and Halvorson criticized Shuster for being part of a weak-willed Republican House leadership.

“I’m proud of the record I’ve established as a proven conservative,” Shuster said in his opening statement. “Actions speak louder than words.”

The two challengers, who identify more closely with the style of the tea party movement, have questioned the role of government in promoting business. Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, defended the government’s role in building highways, including the one that bears his father’s name.

The debate marks the second of four proposed joint appearances by the GOP hopefuls before the May 20 primary.

The 9th District includes Bedford, Blair, Fayette, Fulton, Franklin and Indiana counties and parts of Cambria, Greene, Huntingdon, Somerset and Washington counties. Schooley is from Franklin County.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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