WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep.
Gerlach, who has served six terms in
He is also among a group of suburban Philadelphia Republicans who last year voted with Democrats on several big issues, including
In a statement, Gerlach said it is "simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family, who have been extremely supportive and have made significant sacrifices during my tenure in public office."
Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District leans Republican, but is considered highly competitive. GOP presidential nominee
Gerlach’s departure opens up a potential pickup for Democrats looking to cut the Republican House majority in President
“To hold that seat you’re going to need a candidate with a strong pragmatic streak," said Rep.
Dent said he was surprised by Gerlach's decision, but not blind-sided. The two, who were both elected to the Pennsylvania state House in 1990, had discussed how long they wanted to stay in office.
"I think part of it is he's been in 12 years and it's time to move on," Dent said. "We've talked about how long to stick it out, especially since he was a perennial target and that wears on you after a while."
Gerlach had considered a bid for governor in 2010, but then ran again for Congress. Aides said he will not challenge Pennsylvania's Republican governor,
Vince Galko, an aide to Gerlach, said Gerlach is not running for any other public office in 2014, but has not closed the door to running again in the future.