By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Update: The more Republicans we talk to, the more we hear Pa. Rep. Scott Perry’s name mentioned for the spot.
In a decision that caught even top party insiders by surprise, Rep. Todd Platts (R-York) will announce Tuesday afternoon that he will not seek another term.
Update: In a statement, Platts said his decision to retire came in part from his belief in 12-year term limits for members of Congress. His full statement is below.
“I have long believed in the importance of term limits and have sponsored twelve-year term limit legislation each term since first being elected to Congress.”
His office had issued a press release earlier in the day to schedule a “major political announcement,” but beyond that his team was airtight. Party insiders and press alike were in the dark.
“I would hope he would have called with news as big as that,” said one party leader early Tuesday afternoon. His sentiment was echoed by numerous Republicans contacted by PoliticsPA.
In the intervening hours, Platts has called party leaders and elected officials to inform them of his decision.
Update: York GOP Chairman Bob Wilson thanked Platts for his service.
“Although a surprise, I fully respect his decision. Congressman Platts has treated this office with the dignity and respect it deserves,” Wilson said. “On behalf of York County Republicans and the country, I want to thank him for his service.”
It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Platts would spring this huge surprise. He has the reputation of working behind the scenes and avoiding the spotlight. He was named Chairman of Roll Call’s semi-satirical “Obscure Caucus” in September. His biggest national headlines came in 2009, when he put his name forth for comptroller general of the United States.
And he raised a mere $1,500 in the third quarter of 2011 – a retirement red flag even for someone who rarely cracked $200,000 in a cycle.
Platts avoids the Washington DC scene and frequently boasts of spending only a few nights there since he was elected; he has commuted to York each day otherwise. He has represented the district since 2001, after winning a contested Republican primary for the seat. Since then, he has routinely cruised to re-election over primary and general election challengers.
Ideologically, he has been closer to the political center than Republicans in similarly conservative districts – particularly on issues of gay rights (he was one of 15 Republicans who voted to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).
His departure sets up a primary battle royale for the deep-red seat, which after redistricting includes all of Adams and York counties, the eastern portion of Cumberland County, and most of the City of Harrisburg.
No one has had the opportunity to lay groundwork for a run this cycle, so prospective candidates are yet to emerge. But one name being talked about in the immediate wake of the news is State Rep. Scott Perry of Dillsburg. A source close to York County GOP politics confirmed Perry, a hard-line conservative and Iraq War Army veteran, is considering a bid. Another possible name is State Rep. Seth Grove of Dover, a former Platts staffer.
Update: York County Commissioner Chris Reilly is also in the mix, report several GOP sources.
Platts had already drawn a primary challenge from Ted Waga, a first-time candidate who commutes from Red Lion each day for his job as a Baltimore police sergeant.