Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) will announce this afternoon that he will not seek a seventh term in Congress, according to Republicans with knowledge of his decision.
Platts' office sent out an advisory saying he planned to make a "major political announcement" this afternoon. A Platts spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment, but a GOP source told Roll Call he will say that he's retiring, citing family obligations.
“He just called me about half an hour ago to say that he was going to be announcing his retirement at that press conference at 3:45,” said Pennsylvania Republican Party Central Caucus Chairman Dick Stewart.
Though Platts is only 49, this decision isn't all that surprising. In 2009, he sought an escape hatch from his congressional year and applied to become the comptroller general of the United States. Though he didn't get the job, the move exposed him to danger in the Republican primary, since it meant he was hoping to land a position in the Obama administration. Platts wound up surviving just fine, getting 70 percent of the vote on the way to renomination (in what was then numbered the 19th CD), but he nevertheless had long been somewhat out-of-place in the increasingly hard-right GOP.
Platts was in the bottom quintile of Republicans in terms of how often he cast votes along with the majority of his party, and he had a number of higher-profile apostasies; for instance, as Keegan Gibson of PoliticsPA points out, he was one of just 15 GOPers to vote in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It would be hard to even call Platts a moderate—he was still quite conservative. But in today's Republican Party, that doesn't really cut it. And by his departure, Platts now becomes the sixth Republican in a row to retire—a rather striking development for a caucus which only just retook the House after four years in the wilderness.
Unfortunately for Democrats, Platts leaves behind a seat that is decidedly red. Even though it became a touch bluer in redistricting, the 4th District still went for John McCain by a 54-45 margin. So the action is likely to be concentrated on the GOP side. Gibson mentions two possibilities: State Rep. Scott Perry, who supposedly is already considering a bid and may have the inside track here, and State Rep. Seth Grove, who is a former Platts staffer. As always, we'll be following developments here closely, so stay tuned.
1:18 PM PT: It's official. Platts' statement is at the link. He specifically cited his belief that members of Congress should be limited to six terms (he's in his sixth himself) as a reason why he's stepping down.