WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a Chester County Republican, will not seek reelection, he announced Monday.
Gerlach is in his sixth term in the House after 12 years in the Pennsylvania legislature.
"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 released this afternoon. "This is a tremendously difficult decision because I have had the opportunity to work with a multitude of dedicated public servants throughout the years."
Immediately after the announcement, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, an election forecasting website, moved Gerlach's suburban district to "toss-up" from "safe Republican."
A lot of folks -- well, me, for one -- thought this meant that Gerlach is seriously weighing a spring primary challenge to Gov. Corbett, but the early word is that this is not the case. Instead, it looks like he'll go the ex-Rep. Jim Greenwood route and cash in as a lobbyist on K Street, at least for the next couple of years. Maybe he checked out what college tuition costs these days.
On the other hand, Gerlach's surprise departure also drives home another point -- that's it's probably not a fun time to be a moderate Republican (whi\ch Gerlach is, by today's standards) in the increasingly Tea Party-dominated GOP caucus on Capitol Hill. It's become a cliche to make fun of politicians who claim they want to spend more time with their family, but seriously, would you rather hang with your wife and kids or with the likes of Paul Broun and Steve Stockman.
Goodnight and Gerlach.