U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach will not seek re-election

 In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gerlach, one of a shrinking number of GOP moderates in the House, has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his term. (Charles Dharapak/AP Photo, file)

In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gerlach, one of a shrinking number of GOP moderates in the House, has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his term. (Charles Dharapak/AP Photo, file)

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) has announced he will not seek re-election to Congress.

His seat in the Philadelphia suburbs was not at risk. He faced no significant challengers. No one saw his decision coming, said political analyst Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College.

“It’s stunning. It’s a huge shock. Jim Gerlach has been a fixture in Pennsylvania politics for decades, very prominent, very well-liked,” Madonna said.

The longtime state legislator and six-term congressman, who is 58,  said in a statement that “it is simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family.”

Madonna believes Gerlach has just opened up a competitive race this year for the seat he has held since 2002.

The gerrymandered 6th District — which includes areas of Chester, Berks, Lebanon and Montgomery counties — was known for a time as the “Gerlach District.”

“As an incumbent he was safe and the district is Republican, but I think we’re now going to have a very vigorous two-party election in the fall,” said Madonna.

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