U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) will leave office in May, he announced Tuesday morning, hastening his planned departure from Congress.
Dent, regularly sought out by national media outlets as one of Congress' leading centrist voices and a frequent critic of President Trump, had already said he was not seeking reelection this year. A busy primary was already underway to replace him in his Allentown-based district. But his departure next month will open up a congressional seat and remove his voice from the daily fray even sooner.
The vacancy could also trigger another special election — though it's unclear whether it would occur before November's general election.
By law, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf must decide within 10 days of Dent's departure when to hold a special election. It would have to be at least 60 days after Dent's departure. That would mean any vote to fill the seat would happen well after Pennsylvania's May primary, and in July at the earliest. At that point, there would be less than six months left in the term, with Congress planning to be in recess for much of that time. One option that would spare the state added expense — but leave the district without a representative — would be to hold the special election concurrently with November's general election. That's what happened in Philadelphia after Rep. Chaka Fattah was convicted on corruption charges in 2016.
"Once Gov. Wolf receives an official resignation notice with an exact date, he will make a formal decision regarding scheduling the date of a special election," the governor's office said in a statement.
Dent, who is serving his seventh term in Congress, did not announce his next step.