By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Mars — Pa. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai confirmed for the first time on the record that he is considering a bid for congress in the 12th district. News broke yesterday that he had informed party leaders in Harrisburg that he would run, and PoliticsPA confirmed with campaign sources that he was in.
“My family and I are giving it serious consideration,” Turzai said.
He was popular with state committee members at the meeting of the southwest Pa. caucus. Though he did not address the congressional bid during his remarks to the group, those present report that it was a frequent topic of side conversations. Indeed, supporters handed out nominating petitions on his behalf.
He confirmed what multiple sources has said, that Governor Tom Corbett personally asked him to run.
“Pennsylvania has improved significantly in terms of fiscal responsibility and private sector job creation,” Turzai said. “That’s what we need to focus on in Washington, and what we’ve been missing, and the Governor thinks our message sells. As a result, I’m seriously considering the Governor’s request.”
Questions about whether he will run simultaneously for his Pa. House seat, or maintain the position of Majority Leader during his campaign, will wait until after an official announcement.
In the mean time, two candidates have already floated their names for his House seat: Bob Howard, a former school board member who ran for Allegheny County Controller in 2011, and Karen Shaheen, the treasurer of the Allegheny County GOP.
The buzz was that Turzai will make his official announcement on Wednesday, and that the Governor will be on hand.
He would take on the winner of the primary between Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz, provided he clears a Republican primary. Allegheny County attorney Keith Rothfus, who came within two points of defeating Altmire in 2010, is also in the race.
Speculation that Turzai might run for the U.S. House has been circulating since even before Republicans unveiled the new congressional map. At one point expected to be a safe Democratic seat, the final version of the 12th district is actually marginally favorable to Republicans. It includes a sliver of Lawrence County, all of Beaver County, northern portions of Allegheny County, northern Westmoreland County, southern Cambria County (and Johnston), and northern Somerset County.
Turzai is a former assistant District Attorney and Bradford Woods borough council member. He won a special election for his Pa. House seat in 2001 to replace Jane Orie (who had won the Pa. Senate seat of Melissa Hart, who had herself won a seat in Congress). In 1998, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress against U.S. Rep. Ron Klink.