Pennsylvania House Leader Mike Turzai to Run for Congress

Posted January 20, 2012 at 12:26pm

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai plans to run for the redrawn 12th district seat, a top Republican pickup opportunity, according to two GOP sources familiar with his intentions.

The Republican’s candidacy comes as a big boost for Keystone State GOP officials, who have been seeking a candidate to take on the victor of the Democratic primary between Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz.

Republicans moved the two Democrats into the same, GOP-leaning southwestern Pennsylvania district last month during their decennial redistricting. State Rep. Jim Christiana (R), a Turzai ally, expressed interested in running in the 12th throughout the mapmaking process, but he eventually declined a bid after the maps were released in December.

Turzai told Roll Call in November that he had no interest in running for Congress. But sources say he’s changed his mind.

The Associated Press first reported Turzai’s plans to run for Congress this year.

National Republicans pressed Turzai to run against Altmire in 2010, but he eventually decided against it. Instead, a little-known Pittsburgh attorney, Keith Rothfus (R), ran and lost by less than 2 points. That race is widely regarded as a missed opportunity for Republicans last cycle.

Rothfus, who lives just outside the redrawn 12th district boundaries, plans to run again this year. But it appears he’ll have some competition for the GOP nomination.