Republican Candidates for U.S. Rep. 9th District Debate at Wilson College

- This article previously misstated candidate Arthur Halvorson's position on abortion. It has been changed to the reflect the correct information. Arthur Halvorson says he is 100 percent pro-life.

Pa.  Pennsylvania primary election day is less than a week away, and the Republican candidates for U.S. Congress in the 9th District participated in a debate Wednesday night at Wilson College.

In front of a full auditorium, incumbent Bill Shuster, Art Halvorson and Travis Schooley debated about topics like the Affordable Care Act and partisanship in Washington.

But while they agreed on things like opposing an increase in the minimum wage, Shuster and Halverson got heated up about farm subsidies.

Shuster says Halverson is not practicing what he preaches.

“[Halvorson] accepted farm subsidies while he was railing against them on the other hand, and that's just hypocrisy,” said Shuster.

In a previous candidate debate, Schooley also questioned Halverson about the possibility that he has received ethanol subsidies for his farm.

But Halverson fired back, saying he has not taken any ethanol subsidies for the Bedford County farm he bought in 2007.

"That farm, when I bought it had a contract for a [Conservation Reserve Program]. That is not a subsidy but is a cash payment to not produce on that 10 acres. So I received about $50 a month for four years, about $2,500. I gave that money away,” said Halvorson.

Halvorson also put Shuster on the spot by telling the audience that Shuster voted for a farm bill that includes food stamp provisions— something he claims Shuster told voters he would not support. Shuster had this rebuttal:

"It had significant reforms that farmers wanted,” said Shuster. “And we cut spending— mandatory spending by $23 billion. First time that's been done in a long time. So I felt as though because of the big agricultural nature of Franklin County and the 9th congressional district, I had to support my farmers."

Meanwhile, Schooley managed to stay clear of attacks on his past record Wednesday night. He highlighted his experience in local government and promised transparency if elected.

"I’ve worked in a civil engineering firm. I’ve managed a municipal authority,” said Schooley, an Army veteran. "I'm going to make every attempt to use technology to let [constituents] know what bills are coming up, and also to get their input."

Schooley also says he is “a man who has lived an ordinary life”—something he says will help him represent the 9th Congressional district.

Shuster, who is looking for an 8th term as representative of the 9th district, says his experience sets him apart from his opponents. He says he wants to strengthen Letterkenny and make it the leading army depot in the nation.

Halvorson, a real estate developer who served the Coast Guard for 29 years, says he wants voters to know that he is the only 100 percent pro-life candidate in the race.

The winner of the Republican primary for the 9th Congressional district will face Democrat Alanna Hartzok, who calls herself a “progressive conservative.”

Pennsylvania primary election day is next Tuesday. 

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