Republican Rep. Charlie Dent to Leave Congress in May

Republican Congressman Charlie Dent speaks during an interview at his campaign office in Allentown Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent announced he will be leaving Congress in the next few weeks, before his last term in Congress is up.

He said in a statement released Tuesday morning that he will leave "in the coming weeks".

Dent said in his statement that he is "especially proud" of the work he has does to "give a voice to the sensible center in our country that is often overlooked or ignored" and that he will continue to advocate for responsible governance and in the coming years.

Dent, 57, is a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, made up of several dozen centrist House Republicans, and he is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies.

That would set up a scenario in which the campaign for the special election to fill Dent's seat would overlap with the campaigns of the mid-term elections.

A special election called before the November 6 general election could force Republicans to spend millions to defend the seat.

A moderate Republican, Dent has gained notoriety for his willingness to publicly criticize President Donald Trump in recent months. But the new district that Dent is vacating under the 2018 lines is considered Democratic-leaning.

"Congressman Dent consistently worked across the aisle to deliver results for the hardworking families of his district", Stivers said.

Gov. Tom Wolf will have 10 days from Dent's resignation date to set a special election, which must be at least 60 days out. That new open seat has attracted a crowded field of six Democrats, two Republicans and a Libertarian. "I respect his decision and wish him the best". Political parties will nominate candidates to finish the rest of Dent's term.

The ongoing race is in the newly configured district.

He also submitted legislation Friday that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election from any attempts by the Trump administration to oust him. The new 7th District was created per a state Supreme Court ruling that declared Pennsylvania's current congressional districts to be overly gerrymandered. The special election would be held under the 2011 congressional district map, and not the new map, the spokesperson said.

That means voters could have to vote in two separate congressional races in a matter of months, or even on the same day if the governor schedules the special election for Election Day.

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