Republican Rep. Mike Kelly announced Tuesday that he will not to run for Senate in Pennsylvania, and instead will seek re-election to his House seat.
Kelly becomes the latest House member to opt out of a Senate run. He cited his role on the influential Ways and Means Committee as one reason he is running for a fifth House term.
“From this platform I remain in an influential position to fight for my most important priority: securing a stronger economy and higher take-home pay for my constituents and for all Americans,” Kelly said in a statement.
The congressman’s decision does not mean Barletta would avoid a GOP primary. At least seven other candidates are vying for the nomination.
Barletta spokesman Jon Azur did not directly confirm the AP story, but noted that his boss has been encouraged to challenge Casey, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006.
“The congressman is still giving it serious thought and will make an announcement about his plans in the near future,” Azur said in an email Monday. “Stay tuned.”
Barletta was one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress. Trump, who won Pennsylvania by 1 point last fall, had been encouraging Barletta to take on Casey.
Correction 1:02 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the year Casey was first elected to the Senate.