WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s powerful Republican speaker announced his retirement today, joining a long list of GOP lawmakers who have decided to quit rather than face serving in the minority after this November’s elections. Eleven Republican incumbents across Pennsylvania have announced retirements to avoid facing a competitive race this November.
“Republicans are boasting about their hopes for holding their fragile majorities in Pennsylvania, but this spate of retirements makes it clear that it’s all empty talk,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “Long-time legislators — including the speaker — have read the tea leaves and are calling it quits rather than deal with life in the minority.”
Last Thursday, the DLCC announced its election targets for the first time ever, placing the Keystone State in its top tier of targets as the committee prepares to spend $50 million on state legislative races this cycle. Democrats need to flip just nine seats in the House of Representatives to win control for the first time since 2010.
The GOP exodus from Harrisburg leaves open many suburban districts that have rapidly trended Democratic in the Trump era. Caught between their party’s wholehearted embrace of Trump and his toxic unpopularity with suburban voters, elected officials across the country have retired in droves, one of the clearest signs of Democratic momentum in this year’s elections.
And while Speaker Turzai seems to have read the writing on the wall, it sounds like he forgot to loop in his allies in Washington. Republican State Leadership Committee President Austin Chambers touted his work with the speaker as they attempt to defend the GOP’s fragile majorities in Pennsylvania, but it looks like the RSLC will need to rethink its strategy.
“As much as Pennsylvania and national Republicans bluster, their actions speak far louder than their rhetoric,” added Post. “They know that they’re on the verge of losing control of the General Assembly, and that’s why so many of them are giving up rather than face a bloodbath this November.”