Pennsylvania House Speaker Sam Smith confirmed today he will not be seeking reelection, setting the stage for a mad scramble to replace the man sometimes described as "the closer" for pushing through tricky, high-profile legislation.
In making his announcement this morning in the Capitol newsroom, the top House Republican said a number of factors played into his decision, but among the biggest: "My heart isn't in it."
"And to me, that's important," said Smith, of Jefferson County. "The reason I first ran for office was to make sure our rural voice was heard in Harrisburg."
Smith told reporters that he has been mulling the decision for months, and that it was not made lightly.
He said he does not yet know what his next step will be, but when asked, conceded it likely will not involve running for another public office, or, like some of his past colleagues, becoming a Harrisburg lobbyist.
Smith was first elected to the House in 1986, and became the Republican caucus' Majority Leader in 2003. He was elected Speaker in 2011, and has run the House during a financially tumultuous time for the state since then.
The Republican faced a rough reelection this year: a matchup with an opponent who ran a tough primary against him in 2012.
It was not immediately clear who will seek Smith's Speaker job. Smith did say he believes House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) has worked hard enough to snag it.
This story will be updated.
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