Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino announced Thursday he would be resigning from Congress.
The Republican lawmaker, who represents the 12th District in northeast and central Pennsylvania, said he will be leaving his post Jan. 23 for a job in the private sector.
Marino has served in the House since 2011 and was just re-elected to his fifth term.
“Having spent over two decades serving the public, I have chosen to take a position in the private sector where I can use both my legal and business experience to create jobs around the nation,” he said. “I want to thank the people of the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania for the faith they have placed in me to represent them in Congress. It truly has been one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Marino was a blue-collar factory worker who switched to a legal career later in life and became a federal prosecutor before entering politics. As the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2007, he often focused on drug-trafficking cases.
Trump tapped Marino in April 2017 to be head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, or the nation’s drug czar. Marino withdrew his nomination later that October, following reports about how a bill he sponsored, which later became law, made it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to go after opioid manufacturers who make suspicious sales.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said he had not heard Marino was resigning and said he wanted to talk to him before commenting on the decision. However, the Louisiana Republican noted that members of Congress have resigned early in the past for a variety of reasons.
Just last week, Marino introduced legislation to institute four-year terms for members of the House.
“Having served in Congress for the last 8 years, I have seen what works and what contributes to the dysfunction that often gets associated with this institution. By enabling members to serve longer terms, we can break the cycle of constant campaigning and focus more on issues that are important to our constituents,” he said.
Marino’s resignation will prompt a special election, in which each party’s nominee will be selected by local party leaders at a nominating conference. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf must issue a writ of election within 10 days of Marino stepping down. The special election must take place no fewer than 60 days after Wolf issues the proclamation.
Marino’s district is solidly Republican. He won re-election last year by 32 points and President Donald Trump carried the 12th District by 36 points in 2016.
A crowd of Republicans is likely to seek the party’s nomination for the open seat. When Marino was initially nominated as drug czar, several Republican names were floated for his old 10th District seat. (The Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew the congressional map last year, ruling the previous one represented an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.)
Under the old district lines, the Republicans named as possible successors to Marino included state Rep. Fred Keller, Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko, Lycoming County Commissioner Tony Mussare, state Sen. Mario Scavello, Marino’s district director Dave Weber, and state Rep. Jeff Wheeland. McClinko challenged Marino in the 12th District GOP primary last May and lost by 34 points.
Wheeland is strongly considering running for the open seat, according to a GOP source. It’s unclear if the others would still be considered potential contenders, especially under the new map.