He often runs candidates against local township officials, and orchestrated a bitter fight for control of the county's Republican committee — a shock to people accustomed to a bipartisan, nuts-and-bolts Butler County political scene. But while a right-wing Tea Partier might seem an odd fit for the suburban district, affluent Pittsburgh commuters in the area's booming subdivisions don't vote. And Metcalfe, said to keep only a Bible on his desk, turns out the religious right, a group more concerned with political warfare than constituent services.
"As of last year, he had only written one piece of legislation that passed," says Zack Byrnes, 26, the soft-spoken development director for the Blind Association of Butler and Armstrong Counties who was Metcalfe's Democratic challenger in 2010. "It changed the name of a local bridge."
Metcalfe also infuriated local officials when he opposed state funding for a local park, and they say he did nothing to support a major highway project.
In 2006, Metcalfe and then-Butler County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Powers sought to expel committee candidates who had endorsed Democrats in a local school board race. One of the candidates accused Metcalfe of punishing her for supporting Arlen Specter against conservative challenger (and now senator) Pat Toomey.
"He is extremely methodical in his dislike of people," says Joan Chew, a longtime power broker in the local Republican Party establishment and one of the offending committeepersons. "It just goes step one, step two, step three.
"I tried to change the bylaws to reflect," says Powers, that "you're not allowed to go out and endorse a Democrat because that's not what we're trying to go out and do."
But Metcalfe and Powers also appear to have supported a Democrat — when it suited them.
In 2008, Metcalfe allegedly supported Democrat Dave Root (Powers would say only that Root is "a friend of both Daryl and myself") in his successful campaign against Republican Cranberry supervisor Chuck Caputy. Five years earlier, Metcalfe pressed charges against Caputy, whom he accused of purposely bumping into his daughter at the mall where Caputy worked as a manager at JCPenney. Harassment charges were thrown out, and some accuse Metcalfe of carrying out a political vendetta to punish Republican township supervisors who endorsed Metcalfe's Democratic opponent in the 2002 election.
Little is known about Metcalfe the man. His website states that the upstate New York native attended Kansas State University but does not indicate that he received a degree. He served four years in the Army and eventually made his way to Western Pennsylvania to repair medical devices.
Metcalfe is secretive to the point that he refuses to let janitors clean his office in the Cranberry Township office building.
"He will not allow anyone to clean his office after he's left because he has 'secret documents,'" says Democratic Butler County Commissioner James Lokhaiser, who complained about Metcalfe's obsessive focus on immigrants.
He is a mystery to many colleagues in the House, too, a loner who rarely socializes with other legislators. But Metcalfe didn't come to Harrisburg to, as they say, make friends. Democrats face corruption indictments and political marginalization, moderate Republicans are cowed by the Tea Party, and a loud voice with a pair of sharp elbows has eagerly filled the void.