Midstate Congressman Charlie Dent to leave office next month

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | Apr 17, 2018 1:36 PM

FILE PHOTO:  In this March 23, 2017, file photo, Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Washington) -- Midstate Congressman Charlie Dent is leaving office sooner than expected.

The Republican lawmaker, who announced last September that he would not seek re-election, issued a statement today that he will be stepping down next month:

"After discussions with my family and careful reflection, I have decided to leave Congress in the coming weeks. Serving the people of the 15th Congressional district has been a tremendous responsibility and the privilege of a lifetime, and I am honored by the trust that so many of my constituents placed in me to represent them in Washington. Actively engaging in the legislative and political process presents many challenges, and in so doing, I believe I have had a positive impact on people's lives and made a difference in Congress. I am especially proud of the work I have done to give voice to the sensible center in our country that is often overlooked or ignored. It is my intention to continue to aggressively advocate for responsible governance and pragmatic solutions in the coming years."

Dent has cut a distinct path over the course of his seven terms in Congress. He has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and polarization and dysfunction on Capitol Hill. 

He had opposed a GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act -- a move that reportedly led President Donald Trump to tell Dent he was "destroying the Republican Party."

Dent is a co-chair of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of moderates who call themselves the "governing wing" of the Republican party. He also chairs the appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans' affairs.

He currently represents portions of Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties in Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District.

But, the state Supreme Court redrew the commonwealth's congressional map for the 2018 election as the result of its redistricting ruling. So, it's now known as the 7th District and consists principally of Lehigh and Northampton counties. It's now considered a toss-up.

Both Republicans and Democrats are headed for contested primaries on May 15 for party nominations to replace Dent.

In the meantime, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf will have to make a formal decision regarding a date for a special election to complete Dent's term.  

Once he receives the Republican's official resignation notice, he is required under the state's Election Code set a date for a special eleciton within 10 days of the vacancy. It must be held no sooner than 60 days that. 

Both parties will nomintate candidates -- either through a nomination process or by circulating and filing nomination papers.

The winner would serve out the balance of the term, which would end when the new Congress is seated in January 2019.

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