Politics

Rep. Charlie Dent Resigning ‘In the Coming Weeks’

Pennsylvania Republican had already announced he was not seeking re-election

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent is considering several professional opportunities for his post-congressional career. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:41 p.m. | Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent announced Tuesday that he would resign from Congress “in the coming weeks,” adding later that his last day would come sometime in May.

Dent, a moderate who was first elected to his 15th District in 2004, had already announced he was not running for re-election. In a statement Tuesday that was also posted on Twitter, he said he decided to leave the Hill early “after discussions with my family and careful reflection.” 

“It is my intention to continue to aggressively advocate for responsible governance and pragmatic solutions in the coming years,” the congressman said.

Dent told Roll Call he has been considering several professional opportunities for his life after Congress, and the fact that he will likely make a decision in the next few weeks influenced his decision to resign early rather than finish his term.

“I’m pursuing several options,” he said. “Nothing is final. When it is, I’ll let everybody know. Right now my statement kind of stands as it is, that this just kind of felt like the right time.”

Dent said he informed Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Monday night of his intention to resign.

Heading into a weekly meeting of the moderate Tuesday Group, Dent said it would be up to the the group’s members whether they want to replace him immediately as co-chairman or wait until the next Congress. New York Reps. Elise Stefanik and John Katko are also co-chairs.

“We’ve got strong leadership with John and Elise and we’ll be in good shape,” he said of the Tuesday Group.

The special election process to replace Dent has been made more confusing by recent events in the Keystone State. The state Supreme Court threw out the congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander, and ended up redrawing the district lines in time for November’s midterms. Dent’s 15th District is the new 7th District under the new map. But any special election for his seat would take place under the old 15th District boundaries, a Pennsylvania State Department spokesperson confirmed in an email Tuesday.

Under state law, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has 10 days after the vacancy is official to declare a special election. That election must occur at least 60 days after he makes the announcement. 

“Once Governor Wolf receives an official resignation notice with an exact date, he will make a formal decision regarding scheduling the date of a special election,” his office said in a statement Tuesday.

Nominees would be chosen by party leaders rather than through a primary election.

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“We will work tirelessly to keep this seat under Republican control,” Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

A race is already underway in the newly reconfigured 7th District, located north of Philadelphia in the Lehigh Valley area. Six candidates are competing for the Democratic nod, with North Hampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, pastor Greg Edwards and former Allentown City Solicitor Susan Wild considered the front-runners. The GOP contest features a two-way race between Dean Browning, a former Lehigh County commissioner, and Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Marty Nothstein, who currently serves on the county commission. The primaries are May 15.

The new map shifted the district from one that President Donald Trump carried by 8 points to a seat that Hillary Clinton would have carried by 1 point. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilts Democratic.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.  

Clarification 11:18 a.m. | The story was updated to more accurately describe the potential special election process. 

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