Sunday, October 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The Last of His Kind?

Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, the only member of Congress not taking special interest money, is not seeking re-election; will he be the last of his kind?

The Last of His Kind?

Pennsylvania Congressman Todd Platts, a Republican from York County, announced recently he will not seek re-election this year.

The 50-year-old father of two is a rarity.

He's the only member of Congress who has never taken special interest PAC money and the only member who has never run a paid TV campaign ad -- this in era when the Supreme Court expanded the role of special-interest cash in politics.

He is in his sixth two-year term, and in each term introduced a constitutional amendment to limit congressional service to 12 years because, he says, the founding fathers "believed in rotation of office." You serve, you go back to private life.

He commutes daily from York to Washington when Congress is in session because "living in the real world instead of in Washington" makes him a better representative of his constituents:"I come home to reality every night."

Platts, who previously served eight years in the state House, never took political action committee funds to get elected or re-elected there either.

And before you ask whether he's some ticked-off, far-right country bumpkin angrily trying to make some anti-political, anti-government, anti-everything point, you should know this: Platts is a summa cum laude grad of Shippensburg Universirty and a cum laude grad of Pepperdine University Law School.

In Congress, he sponsored the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards signed into law in 30 years. He sponsored a law that's increased financial accountability at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He was lead Republican sponsor of a law that's given the Food & Drug Administration first-time-ever authority to regulate tobacco products.

And as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he's been to Iraq 11 times and to Afghanistan eight times.

Monday, Platts spoke at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg. He stressed this message: "We've got to do a better job of governing...we need not to be so much Republicans and Democrats as we need to be proud Americans."

During a Q&A session, he said he doesn't rule out running for public office again someday and "would love to run statewide" without taking special-interest money to prove it could be done.

Of course, running statewide and winning statewide are two different animals. And Platts, I'm afraid, is the last of his kind.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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