Pa. House Speaker Turzai will not run for reelection

FILE PHOTO: House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, walks down a corridor at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Friday, June 28, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

FILE PHOTO: House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, walks down a corridor at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Friday, June 28, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

One of Pennsylvania’s most powerful Republicans will not run for reelection this fall.

House Speaker Mike Turzai broke the news in an emotional speech Thursday morning at an event in his Allegheny County District. Before an audience that included his family and political supporters, Turzai said he plans to serve out his term, and suggested there might be opportunities in the private sector awaiting him.

Turzai, 60, started his career as a prosecutor in Allegheny County. He won his state House seat nearly two decades ago, after losing his first run for office, a 1998 congressional bid, in a landslide. He rose to Speaker five years ago, presiding over a strong Republican majority and forcefully promoting a fiscally and socially conservative agenda.

He is perhaps best known for his staunch support of the natural gas drillers and opposition to taxes on the industry– an association he said he is proud of.

Turzai is also a staunch abortion opponent — most recently sponsoring a contentious bill that would have criminalized abortions that are performed on the basis of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf vetoed it.

Citing a desire to allow younger members of the Republican Party to take up his conservative mantle, Turzai said he made the decision to end his House career after much consultation with his wife and three sons.

“I left it all on the field,” he said.

Turzai said he’s interested in joining the private sector, but did not elaborate on what opportunities might be awaiting him after his term expires at the end of the year.

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