Election 2020

Moderate GOP Caucus Co-Chairman Retiring Amid 'Disruptive Outside Influences' Leading to 'Chaos'

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) emerges from a House Republican Conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Two moderate Republican House lawmakers announced this week that they won’t be seeking re-election, lifting Democrats’ hopes of picking up seats in Washington state and Pennsylvania.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) announced Thursday that he wouldn’t seek an eighth term in 2018 midterm elections.

“Earlier this year, my family discussions about the future increased in frequency, and I looped in a small group of immediate family, friends and senior staff, ultimately deciding in mid-summer that I would not seek another term,” Dent said in a statement. “Frankly, I never planned on serving, voters permitting, more than 5 or 6 terms in the U.S. Congress. I’m now serving my seventh term.”

Dent serves as co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group caucus, which has more than 50 GOP members. “I have done my best to make a meaningful, positive impact. As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington. I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default,” he said.

“Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos. But I have also had a stake in major legislative accomplishments: budget agreements that prioritize our federal commitments, pro-growth trade and tax policy, initiatives to advance medical innovation and research, major infrastructure investments, and policies that secure our homeland,” he added. “I promise to continue my role, both inside and soon outside of government, of giving voice to the sensible center and working to solve problems for the American people through smart policy – the product of negotiation, cooperation and inevitably, compromise.”

Some of the first reaction to Dent’s announcement came from the other side of the aisle, with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) praising the Pennsylvania Republican as one who charted “an independent course as a fighter on behalf of his constituents.”

“He’s spent his time in the House working to remind his colleagues on both sides of the aisle that we are here to find compromise, not contention,” Hoyer added. “Charlie has demonstrated courage and conviction, and members on both sides of the aisle will miss serving with him.”

Mid-week, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) announced that he wouldn’t be running for an eighth term next year. “It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me. I have spent my entire career and devoted my life to service. I see this not just as a job, but as a calling – a calling I will not walk away from,” he said.

Dent’s district leans Democratic in party registration by 43 percent to 40 percent. GOP state lawmakers Justin Simmons and Ryan Mackenzie have said they’ll run for the seat, and others are considering a run. One Democrat, former Coplay Mayor Bill Leiner, has so far jumped into the race.

Reichert told the Seattle Times “it’s going to be hard” for Republicans to hold his district. A winning candidate, he said, should “come with an open mind and ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle… and some tough skin.”