HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a leader of an influential caucus of GOP moderates and a critic of President Donald Trump, said Tuesday that he will resign from Congress in May, after announcing last year he would not seek re-election.
Dent’s announcement sets up a midsummer special election to serve the remaining months in his term while candidates campaign for a full two-year term in the November election.
It will be the second special election in Pennsylvania this year, following Democrat Conor Lamb’s victory last month in a southwestern Pennsylvania district long held by Republicans.
The seven-term Dent did not give a precise departure date in Tuesday’s statement. He said he made the decision after discussing it with his family and careful reflection.
Dent has been a frequent critic of Trump and polarization, ideological rigidity and dysfunction on Capitol Hill. Gov. Tom Wolf will have 10 days from Dent’s resignation date to set a special election. The date of the special election must be at least 60 days from the time the governor schedules it.
Major-party candidates for the special election are nominated under party rules. The district, as currently drawn, has slightly more registered Democrats than Republicans, but Trump won it by more than 7 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016’s presidential election.
The boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts were redrawn earlier this year under court order in a gerrymandering case, and the newly drawn district around Dent’s Allentown-area home base is considered a toss-up in November’s election. Republicans and Democrats are headed for contested primaries May 15 in the seat.
Wolf, a Democrat, thanked Dent for his service.
“Charlie Dent is a voice of reason and civility that breaks through the chaos and partisanship of Washington and he will be missed,” Wolf said in a statement.