PA House Speaker Smith out?

Political blogs and the online news service capitolwire.com are reporting that House Speaker Sam Smith will not seek reelection this year.

The 14-term Republican held GOP leadership spots since 2000 and is among only a few legislative leaders never charged nor publicly implicated in various legislative criminal investigations during his tenure.

Smith, of Punxsutawney, served as House Majority Whip, Majority Leader and is in his second term as Speaker.

He narrowly won a GOP primary to stand for reelection in 2012 and was facing the same primary opponent, former Department of Corrections official Cris Dush, this May.

Smith last month indicated he would seek another term, so an expected annoucement of reversal comes as a surprise to many.

Smith isn't viewed as a hardline conservative. He's the only member of leadership actively pushing for a smaller legislature. He won praise last year for passage of a $2.4 billion transportation bill. But that action, because it entails higher gasoline taxes and vehicle fees, angered many fellow Republicans who oppose any tax increases.

Current House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, of Pittsburgh, is a likely successor to Smith as Speaker. Turzai did not support the transportation bill, is the Legislature's foremost advocate for selling off State Stores and made national news in 2012 for his publicly-stated assessment of the state's voter ID law as a method to help then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney carry Pennsylvania.

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