Representative Dent to retire early from Congress in May

Robert Sterner, Advisor

Republican Representative Charlie Dent has announced today his retirement next month.  

Previously he had said he would resign at the end of the year.  The resignation may trigger a special election, said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s office.

A statement from him provided few details for the move, “After discussions with my family and careful reflection, I have decided to leave Congress in the coming weeks.”

Dent represents the Pennsylvania 15th District. The district has been redrawn following a lengthy court battle which resulted in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrawing the boundaries.

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., a member of the House Appropriations Committee, emerges from a House Republican Conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 28, 2017. Dent announced his intention to resign from the House in May on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Governor Wolf has the power to call for a special election to fill the vacant seat.  

“Once Governor Wolf receives an official resignation notice with an exact date,” a statement from the Governor’s office read, “he will make a formal decision regarding scheduling the date of a special election.”

According to state law, Governor Wolf will have ten days following the vacancy to issue a writ calling for a special election.  The election cannot be sooner than 60 days after the writ is issued. The earliest Wolf could set the election date is July 1, 2018.

Additionally, the special election will be complicated by the newly redrawn districts. In January, the PA Supreme Court struck down the map because of gerrymandering and struck it down as unconstitutional.  After attempts by both Democratic and Republican politicians to redraw the district boundaries, the PA Supreme Court implemented its own map. This new district map will be active for the midterm elections in November 2018.

Dent’s PA-15th is a sprawling district which includes all or parts of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh, and Northampton counties.

Under the new district map much of the area served by the Pennsylvania 15th district will be covered by the 7th, 9th, and 10th districts. Hershey and surrounding areas will fall under the new PA-10th district.

Because of the new map, the representative for the PA-15th elected by this special election will have a brief tenure. He or she will serve until through the end of the year as the new district map will come into effect in November.

Dent joins the growing list of Republican Congressmen leaving Congress including Ryan Costello (R-PA6) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who announced his retirement just last week. The current count of Republicans leaving Congress after the 2018 midterm election is at 33, according to Fox News.

First elected to the House in 2005, Dent has been a moderate Republican. However, he has been out of step with President Trump. Politico reported Dent had clashed with the president over the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, among other things.

Dent is a co-chair of the informal caucus, the Tuesday Group, of about 50 moderate Republicans. The Tuesday Group was founded following the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. The group is described as “a group of center-right Republicans dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility, personal independence and a strong national defense,” according to Dent’s GOP webpage.