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Josh Shapiro, John Fetterman Hold ‘Rally In The Valley’ Event At Old Main

With Election Day quickly approaching, Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman held a “Rally in the Valley” campaign event on Wednesday evening at Old Main.

A number of other notable folks were in attendance, too, including lieutenant governor candidate Austin Davis, State College Mayor Ezra Nanes, Mark Higgins, Michael Pipe, and Paul Takac.

Hundreds of people filled the bottom steps at Old Main and spread into the lawn while volunteers handed out signs, buttons, and more in support of both Shapiro and Fetterman.

Elliot Copeland, a member of Penn State College Democrats, helped to put on Wednesday’s event and welcomed the crowd.

“Our focus has always been on the horizon of tomorrow, with each new day beginning with sunrises over Mount Nittany,” Copeland said. “The leadership we need now must also be thinking of the future, not miring in the grievances of the past.”

The Centre County Democratic Committee chairwoman, Margie Swoboda, spoke next, briefly highlighting the upcoming public officials and candidates who would speak.

Higgins and Pipe, members of the Centre County Board of Commissioners, echoed Swoboda’s sentiment and encouraged the crowd to understand how critical next Tuesday’s election is.

“It’s not just going to come down to Philly and Pittsburgh,” Higgins said. “Turnout is going to matter here at Penn State, in State College, and Centre County. We have to focus on turning out voters across the entire Commonwealth. The results of this election will decide permanently many of the important issues.”

Nanes shared with the crowd his reasoning for supporting Shapiro, Davis, and Fetterman.

“I ask myself, ‘Why do I want them to win so badly?'” Nanes said. “Then, I knew it was very simple. It’s because I trust them. I trust them with my family’s future because that’s what’s at stake here. I trust them because their words match their deeds. I trust them to help us secure LGBTQ and trans rights. I trust them to secure the rights of women and all those who can bear children to make their own healthcare decisions.”

Nanes then introduced Takac, the Democratic candidate for representative of House District 82, which is a newly formed district under Pennsylvania’s recent redistricting maps.

Rather than focusing on any individual issue too deeply, Takac chose to discuss the overarching changes that have occurred in Pennsylvania over the past several decades.

Scott Conklin, current Representative for the 77th legislative district, joined the center stage as the next guest. He began by poking fun at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, referencing his questionable residency in Pennsylvania and apparent history of using puppies as test subjects in medical experiments.

Conklin quickly turned serious, though, expressing that next Tuesday’s election isn’t about the candidates. He urged attendees to make the choice that would benefit themselves, not large corporations or CEOs.

“It’s about you,” Conklin reiterated. “It’s about the police officers that are watching over us right now, the guy that cuts the grass, the lady who serves your meal every day at the cafeteria, the doctor, the nurse, the plumber. That’s what this election is about.”

Conklin then introduced Austin Davis, who is running alongside Josh Shapiro as a lieutenant governor candidate. Davis would notably also be Pennsylvania’s first Black lieutenant governor. Davis showed his support for the working class, noting his efforts to maintain unions in the commonwealth.

Davis emphasized the “extreme views” held by his and Shapiro’s opponents, Republican candidates Doug Mastriano and Carrie DelRosso, calling it “the most dangerous ticket in the country.”

“Mastriano has proven time and time again through his own words and actions that he is unfit to serve as a Senator in the Pennsylvania General Assembly,” Davis said.

Davis walked off, and in stormed Fetterman, who has served as the 34th lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania since 2019. Fetterman was quick to make another joke about Oz and his choice of red wine while attending a Penn State tailgate several weeks ago.

Fetterman didn’t hesitate to address the elephant in the room, which was the stroke that he suffered a few months ago. He acknowledged that he may skip over some words or slur them together, but that at the end of the day, he had simply gotten knocked down and was getting back up — and that’s what he wants his campaign to do.

“Everyone that ever got knocked down in Pennsylvania that ever had to get back up, every forgotten community that has gotten knocked down needs to be built back up,” Fetterman explained.

He highlighted the stark contrast between Oz’s views and his own, focusing on workers’ rights and raising the minimum wage. About halfway through his speech, Fetterman was repeatedly interrupted by a young man, who quickly drew loud boos from the crowd. Fetterman remained unfazed as the crowd broke out in a “Fetterman” cheer, and the heckler was eventually asked to leave by police.

Fetterman continued to discuss the importance of protecting basic rights such as affordable healthcare, voting rights of college students, marriage equality, and a woman’s right to choose.

“If you send me to Washington D.C., I’ll always stand and do what’s right,” he said.

Finally, the Democratic candidate for governor, Shapiro, stepped up to speak. He told attendees about how he had also attended a Penn State tailgate recently but without red wine. Shapiro also mentioned a dominant game of cornhole that he played with Franco Harris, and he then dove into his speech.

“I’m prepared to do my part as the next governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said. “That looks like creating opportunity for all people, and that starts by investing in our schools and making sure that everyone can be safe and feel safe in their communities.”

Shapiro discussed his history as the current Attorney General of Pennsylvania, which includes going after apartment management companies that took advantage of college students, student loan companies, fracking companies, and other businesses that have profited off of others’ losses.

He then pivoted to the extremist views of his opponent, Mastriano.

“I know where he was on January 6,” Shapiro told the crowd. “He was in our nation’s Capitol, part of the violent mob that stormed up the steps of the Capitol. He wasn’t there to protest or to listen to a speech. He went there that day to stop your voice from being heard and to stop our democracy from moving forward.”

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to or choose not to pray to, you have a place here in Pennsylvania,” he continued.

Shapiro wrapped up his speech by reminding attendees what freedom really is, which he said is having the choice of bodily autonomy, the choice of what books we are allowed to read, the choice of who you marry, and many other rights that his opponent threatens to take away.

Shapiro finished the evening by greeting several members of the crowd and posed for a picture with members of the Penn State College Democrats. He also took a person’s BeReal social media photograph, too.

Election Day is on Tuesday, November 8.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a junior in the Schreyer Honors College studying immunology and infectious disease. She is from Mifflintown, PA, a tiny town south of State College. She is a coffee addict, loves Taylor Swift, and can't wait to go to a concert again. Any questions can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter or emailed to [email protected]

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