Gerlach Retirement Opens Up Competitive Pennsylvania District

Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania is eschewing a re-election campaign this year, leaving open a competitive district near Philadelphia that was mildly Republican-leaning in the 2012 election.

“Nearing the end of my sixth term in the House and following 12 years of public service in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, it is simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family,” Gerlach said in a statement.

Gerlach represents Pennsylvania’s 6th District, which includes parts of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery Counties. Republican Mitt Romney won 50.6 percent of the district vote in the 2012 presidential election compared to 48.1 percent for President Barack Obama, according to data compiled by Political Capital.

Just under half of the vote comes out of Chester County, and Obama carried the 6th‘s share of the county by 1 percentage point. About one-fourth of the vote comes out of Berks County, which Romney won by about 8 points. Another quarter comes from Montgomery County, a section that Obama won by 2 points. The 6th‘s share of Lebanon County, the smallest part of the district, went for Romney by more than 20 points.

Gerlach was re-elected in 2012 with 57 percent of the vote, after Republican legislators in Harrisburg shifted out some Democratic-leaning territory during the redistricting process. Gerlach won 51 percent in the 2002, 2004 and 2006 elections and took 52 percent in 2008 before surging to 57 percent in 2010, a good Republican year.

An open-seat race should draw multiple Democratic and Republican candidates. Mike Parrish, the chief executive officer of Daleco Resources Corp. in West Chester, filed candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission last week.

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