Republican Congressman Charlie Dent’s Retirement Gives Democrats Chance to Flip Pennsylvania House Seat
Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, one of the few moderate Republicans left in the U.S. House of Representatives and a frequent Trump critic announced this week that he would not run for re-election in 2018 giving Democrats an opportunity to pickup the House seat.
In his statement, Congressman Dent cited “disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder, and chaos.”
Dent did not endorse President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential elections and voted against the recently failed GOP Obamacare repeal and replace bill.
Mr. Dent announced Thursday that he would not seek an 8th term, saying the White House had “taken the fun out of dysfunction.”
Dent has held his Lehigh Valley seat since 2004 and won all of the consecutive re-elections to PA-15 House seat with ease without a serious competition from Democrats. However, his departure gives Democrats a better chance to flip the seat which includes the cities of Allentown and Bethlehem.
President Trump carried Pennsylvania’s 15th District 52-44% while Mitt Romney won it by a narrower 51-48% margin in 2012. GOP Gov. Tom Corbett barely won it 50.3-49.7 in 2014 and Democratic Senator Bob Casey won the senatorial district by a smaller 50-48% margin in 2012.
A few days before Rep. Dent announced his departure from U.S. House, he picked up a primary challenge from state Rep. Justin Simmons who argued that Rep. Dent “sides with the Democrats and gloats at sticking it to Republicans and the president.”
Rep. Dent does not want Simmons to succeed him and he predicted on Friday that a “centrist, pragmatic Republican” would join the race “imminently.” Rep. Justin Simmons had been gearing up to run in 2018, accusing Dent of “going off the rails” on President Trump.
State Rep. Ryan McKenzie jumped in following Mr. Dent’s decision to quit. The Morning Call describes McKenzie as “more conservative than Dent and more friendly with the congressional representative than Simmons,” but McKenzie may or may not be the pragmatist Dent has in mind.
Democrats would prefer to face a tea partier like Simmons rather than a low-key opponent in the Dent mold in 2018.
A decade ago, U.S. House PA-15 district was a classic swing district but in 2012 Republican lawmakers redrew the congressional map and pushed it west to include Republican parts of Lebanon and suburbs of Harrisburg, which made it tougher for Democrats to win an open seat.
The district voted for Mitt Romney by three points in 2012 and for Trump by eight points in 2016. The seat is a potential pickup for Democrats in the battle to control the U.S. House of Representatives. Winning the seat depends on party organizations, Republicans nominee and the right Democratic candidate.
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