Top stories of 2017: Congressional shake-ups

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Dec 28, 2017 6:43 AM

U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent. (Photo: Michael K. Dakota, Lebanon Daily News)

At least two midstate Congressional seats will be open in next year's midterm election, likely making Pennsylvania a battleground once again.

Republican Congressmen around the state faced decisions about their political futures in 2017.

Congressman Charlie Dent announced in September he is not seeking another term.

The moderate Republican is in his seventh term representing a district that includes portions of Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties.

Dent was a sharp critic of President Donald Trump during his campaign and opposed a GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Dent told NPR increased partisanship affected his decision.

"There's an increased polarization. There are groups out there that profit off this type of instability, uncertainty and chaos, and they put a lot of pressure on members of Congress," he said.

Dent recently confirmed he's been speaking to TV executives about the possibility of becoming an analyst. That's led to some speculation he might step down before the end of his term.


Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Rather than turning away from politics, Congressman Lou Barletta is aiming higher.

He plans to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey for his seat next year.

But first, he has to win the Republican primary. The former mayor of Hazleton is currently the most recognizable name among a handful of Republican challengers.

One of President Trump's earliest supporters, Barletta -- whose district includes all of Columbia County and parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, Northumberland and Perry counties --
is noted for his hardline stance on illegal immigration.

"I do not want to let people stay here who have committed crimes, or who might be a terrorist. We have Americans to protect," Barletta said on WITF's Smart Talk program.


Rep. Thomas Marino, R-Pa., flanked by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

Congressman Tom Marino is up for re-election in the 10th district, which includes Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry and Snyder counties.

Marino was up for a job as the president's drug czar, but withdrew his name after The Washington Post and 60 Minutes released a damaging report on a bill he sponsored that has hampered the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Marino told Keystone Crossroads the story was "a hatchet job."

"The drug industry, the pharmaceutical companies had nothing to do with my legislation when we put it together," he said.

In western Pennsylvania, a seat formerly held by Republican Congressman Tim Murphy will be filled with a special election.

The staunch anti-abortion lawmaker resigned after it surfaced he had asked his mistress to get an abortion following a pregnancy scare.

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