Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach, who's been in office for over a decade, announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election this year, and he also won't try to primary wounded Gov. Tom Corbett. While we don't have any particular insight into Gerlach's decision-making process, he's now the fourth decidedly non-tea party Republican to bail on Congress this term, along with Reps. John Runyan, Frank Wolf, and Tom Latham.
Gerlach, sitting in a swingy suburban turf, had also been a perennial Democratic target and never won more than 52 percent of the vote in his first four elections. He did perform better in the GOP wave of 2010, taking 57 percent, and he matched that figure last cycle after Republicans shored up his seat in redistricting. Gerlach hadn't drawn an opponent yet this year, but having to deal with a stiff re-election fight every time may have taken its toll.
Despite recent gerrymandering, though, Pennsylvania's 6th is still very competitive, particularly with Gerlach gone. Mitt Romney carried the district by a narrow 51-48 margin in 2012, and even under the new lines, Barack Obama won here 53-46 four years prior to that. So you can bet that Democrats will make this a top target—and Republicans will fight hard to hold it.
And now, with Gerlach's retirement, plenty of candidates on both sides are sure to express interest. On the Democratic side, according to PoliticsPA, attorney Chris Casey, a brother of Sen. Bob Casey, is a possibility, and former state environmental chief Katie McGinty could also drop down from the gubernatorial race. Potential Republicans, meanwhile, include Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello; former state Rep. Sam Rohrer; and state Sen. John Rafferty.