The difficult newscast that convinced Janelle Stelson to run for Congress

Janelle Stelson

Janelle Stelson speaking to supporters at The Englewood in Hershey, PA. after winning the Democratic primary for the Pennsylvania 10th Congressional District on April 23, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Bonnie Fuller

June 10, 2024

Janelle Stelson, a former Harrisburg area TV anchor, talks about the moment that made her run for congress against US Rep. Scott Perry in an exclusive interview with The Keystone.

Janelle Stelson has been a familiar face to WGLA-TV 8 viewers for 26 years in Central Pennsylvania, but she made the momentous decision to quit her high-profile TV anchor job last September.

She did that for one reason and one reason only—to run in the state’s 10th congressional district against US Rep Scott Perry, a key player in the Jan. 6 plot to undermine Pennsylvania voters’ democratic choice in 2020.

“I will work hard to represent the district’s voters to make sure their voices are heard in Congress,” she told The Keystone in an exclusive interview.

“Instead of the guy who’s been doing nothing for us. The guy who’s an anarchist and obstructionist. This 118th Congress at last count had only accomplished 27 pieces of legislation, which is fewer than at any point since the Great Depression in the 1930s. And that’s Scott Perry. He’s been the chief obstructionist and he seems to be proud of it.”

Here, Stelson shares the five key reasons why she wants to make Pennsylvanians’ lives far better and why she insists that Scott Perry won’t.

1) Scott Perry opposes the right to an abortion and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Stelson was live on air during her 5:30 pm newscast when the stunning Supreme Court Dobbs decision dropped in June 2022.

That’s the decision which overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that made abortion legal for women in America for 50 years.

It was that moment which galvanized the award-winning news anchor to quit her job and pursue a run for Congress.

“I had to look out into the camera in my best, at-the-time nonpartisan way and tell every woman watching that her rights had been rolled back 50 years. That took a serious chunk out of my heart that day,” Stelson confessed to The Keystone.

“And then, when we’re getting reaction from our congress people and Congressman Perry is basically doing a jig, he was just delighted that our rights had been overturned and taken away. That’s when I really started thinking seriously about this.”

Perry had, in fact, taken quickly to Twitter after the Supreme Court announcement to enthuse that the “SCOTUS decision is a monumental victory for the unborn, and Constitutionally restores the rights of the States’ and Citizens’ to adjudicate this issue for themselves.”

The Dobbs decision, recalled Stelson, was a wakeup call not just for her but also for the voters in her district.

“People were glued to their TV sets,” she said. “We literally watched something we never thought would happen.”

“Fifty years is a long time, and now the fact that for some of us, our mothers had more rights than our daughters will have, is just stunning. I think it has awakened people to the fact that you cannot take anything for granted in our democracy, including democracy itself.”

In contrast to Stelson’s stance on women’s rights, she points to Scott Perry’s longtime record of signing on to anti-abortion legislation, including the Life At Conception Act, which he has co-sponsored in Congress since 2017.

The Life at Conception Act “guarantees a right to life” to every “human being” and defines life as beginning at “the moment of fertilization.”

Stelson warns voters not to be taken in by his recent attempts to backpedal on those stances Despite his sponsored legislation clearly doing so, Perry now claims that he supports neither a national abortion ban nor a ban on IVF, and wants to “honor” the Supreme Court’s decision to leave abortion regulations up to the states.

“He wants a nationwide ban. Make no mistake,” Stelson insisted. “ A nationwide ban with no exceptions for rape, incest or risk to the life of the mother. And he feels the same way about IVF.”

2) Pennsylvanians need economic help & Scott Perry votes against it

Stelson’s second clear priority is delivering relief to economically-pinched Pennsylvanians.

“A lot of people are struggling with the economy. Even though the picture is improving, you can’t discount that pain,” said the first-time candidate.

Top of Stelson’s economic agenda is to work with Congress to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which she believes will pressure Pennsylvania’s state legislature to up its minimum, which is also $7.25.

“Every state around us is nearly double that. Even West Virginia has a higher minimum wage. That’s absurd,” she said.

She also wants to increase the childcare tax credit and to impose higher taxes on big corporations.

“Let’s take the onus off the middle class, which is really struggling with the brunt of everything”

She assailed Perry for repeatedly voting against bills that save Pennsylvanians money like the Affordable Care Act, which is providing health insurance to a record breaking 435,000 Pennsylvanians in 2024, many for the first time. She also touted Joe Biden’s Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which has brought $16.7 billion in investments to Pennsylvania.

Scott Perry voted against the bipartisan bill.

“We have some great projects underway right now. But not only are they shoring up our deteriorating roads and bridges,” she pointed out, “but in most cases they are (providing) union-paying jobs that are supporting our families and are the bedrock of our community.”

3) Scott Perry is an insurrectionist & Pennsylvania’s Putin puppet

Stelson said that members of her district are telling her very directly that Perry’s deep involvement in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election are a prime motivator for them to vote against him.

“People are extraordinarily upset about his being one of the architects of the deadly January 6th insurrection, and I would attach to that, that he was the only member of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation who voted against bipartisan legislation to give the police officers who defended the Capitol that day and protected his life and the lives of his colleagues – the Congressional Gold Medal,” she said.

He even took it a step further “by calling the legislation ‘garbage.’”

Stelson says voters have been eager to tell her that they are still “really, really upset by how he tried to overturn their votes … That the FBI seized his phone and that he asked for a presidential pardon, but then out of the other side of his mouth said he didn’t do anything wrong.”

“So if you didn’t do anything wrong, you probably don’t need to seek a pardon,” Stelson mused.

Perry and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson certainly don’t appear to have regrets or concerns over Perry’s multiple efforts to assist Trump in overturning the results of the 2020. Johnson just appointed Perry to sit on the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees all of the federal intelligence agencies, including the FBI, which seized his phone.

He is currently still under federal investigation for his role in the events of January.

Stelson is disgusted.

“The politician whose phone was seized by the FBI is now overseeing the FBI. We cannot play games with our country’s most important secrets, and Central Pennsylvanians should be incredibly concerned that Scott Perry is in that position,” she told The Keystone after the appointment.

As Stelson and many of her potential constituents know, Perry, the former chairman of the right wing Freedom Caucus, was one of the key enablers of Trump’s multi-faceted efforts to overturn the election.

On January 6th he voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results, but before that he introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clarke, a Justice Department environmental lawyer who supported Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the election.

Trump tried to install Clark as Acting Attorney General and then have him send letters to swing state legislatures claiming “irregularities” in the 2020 election so they would delay certification of their electors.

Perry spread wild conspiracy theories to Trump’s Chief of staff Mark Meadows about the Dominion voting machines supposedly switching Trump votes to Biden’s, about Italian satellites allegedly changing votes and about the British government supposedly tampering with the vote. All these conspiracies have been repeatedly debunked.

Perry’s cell phone was subsequently seized by the FBI.

But Stelson isn’t just incensed by Perry’s betrayal of the democratic election process here, she also calls out the former U.S. Army National guard brigadier general’s failure for “not helping our democratic allies elsewhere.”

He voted against aid to Ukraine, even though the 10th congressional district would have benefited from money flowing to jobs in its defense sector. The Trump ally also voted against aid to Ukraine after Trump relentlessly pressured House Republicans not to vote for the foreign aid package.

“Perry has actually sort of turned into Pennsylvania’s Putin puppet because he’s basically doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding for him,” charged Stelson.”He’s not actively working to expel the Russians and support (Ukraine’s) borders.”

4) Scott Perry grandstands on the border but doesn’t want to fix it.

Stelson also bets that voters in her district are tired of a representative who “a couple of months ago was at the border pointing fingers again” but has repeatedly opposed recent bipartisan border security bills because “it would give Democrats something to run on.”

She accused him of never offering solutions for issues at the border.

“He just talks about it being the other party’s problem, when really … this is an American issue, not a Democratic or Republican issue,” Stelson said.

“We need to secure our southern border … we must send asylum seekers who don’t belong here home in an expeditious, humanitarian fashion, and the people who are deemed legal to come over, we need to assimilate them properly and that takes some funding.”

“We don’t need a guy who grandstands,” she continued. “We need an approach where you reach across the aisle and realize that we’re Americans, above being any party, and let’s get things done that secure us as a nation.”

5) Scott Perry votes against our police and vets

Voting against medals for the Capitol police isn’t the only vote that Perry, a military veteran himself, has taken against America’s veterans and first responders.

Stelson ticked off some of Perry’s votes against providing help to law enforcement officers and members of the military and vets.

Perry voted against providing maternity and postpartum medical services for vets.

He voted against “health benefits for his brothers and sisters in the military who breathed in toxic burn pits” while serving overseas. He voted against housing for homeless vets. He voted against a bill to protect firefighters from dangerous substances. He voted against overtime pay for Secret Service members.

“It’s astounding to me. I don’t know where these votes are born, but it’s just not representative of the way central Pennsylvania feels about the military or our police officers or first responders. We really back ‘em”, says Stelson.

 

Author

  • Bonnie Fuller

    Bonnie Fuller is the former CEO & Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USWeekly and YM. She now writes about politics and reproductive rights. She can be followed on her Substack at: BonnieFuller1.

CATEGORIES: NATIONAL POLITICS
Related Stories
Share This