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From the archives 2020

Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai expected to resign before the end of his term, sources say

by Cynthia Fernandez of Spotlight PA, and Jan Murphy and Charles Thompson of PennLive | The Patriot-News |

House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) earlier this year announced he would not seek reelection this fall.
Joe Hermitt / The Patriot-News

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Update, June 10: House Speaker Mike Turzai confirmed Wednesday he will resign from the state House. He said his last day will be June 15.

HARRISBURG — The most powerful Republican in the Pennsylvania House, Speaker Mike Turzai, is expected to announce Wednesday that he will resign before the end of his final term, according to multiple legislative sources with knowledge of his plans.

Turzai (R., Allegheny) announced in January that he would not seek reelection this fall and would instead pursue a job in the private sector. Sources, who requested anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the speaker’s plans, said it was not clear when Turzai will depart, though he’s expected to outline a timetable Wednesday.

Lawmakers on Tuesday said Turzai told members that his family was coming to the Capitol this week for an announcement. In an interview, Turzai said he wants to have his family present when he shares some remarks with the House, though he declined to provide details.

“It’s an opportunity to speak to the members who have been my colleagues and friends from both sides of the aisle, and share some heartfelt recollections and lessons I think we learned in working together to make Pennsylvania better,” Turzai said early Tuesday evening.

Several media reports and sources have speculated that Turzai will take an executive position with Essential Utilities Inc., a Bryn Mawr-based company that this year acquired Peoples Gas of Pittsburgh. That company was formerly known as Aqua America Inc. and is a major Turzai donor whose CEO, Chris Franklin, is a close friend of the lawmaker.

A lawyer who served as an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County, Turzai was first elected to the House in 2001 in a special election. He rose to majority leader in 2010 before being chosen as speaker in 2015.

Turzai is a staunch supporter of limited government, pushing for legislation that would privatize the state’s liquor stores and increase taxpayer support for private and religious schools. He opposes abortion access and championed several bills that were met with Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto pen.

The men have repeatedly found themselves at odds over Wolf’s proposals to raise the minimum wage or institute a shale tax.

Turzai has also raised substantive funds for Republican candidates and made a few attempts at higher office over the years. That includes a bid for governor in 2018 abandoned after the Republican Party endorsed another candidate, then-State Sen. Scott Wagner (R., York).

In January, Turzai said he was retiring after consulting with his family about the future.

“It’s time for someone else to run in this particular seat, and shortly, it will be time for some of my colleagues to take the mantles of leadership in the House Republican Caucus,” he said.

He soon endorsed veteran Rob Mercuri to take his Western Pennsylvania seat, largely considered to be a suburban battleground for Democrats this fall. With some ballots left to be counted, Mercuri will likely face Democrat Emily Skopov, who challenged Turzai in 2018, this November.

“Mike Turzai is unquestionably one of the giants in the 40 years that I’ve been in Harrisburg,” said lobbyist and former Senate leadership staffer Mike Long. “He is one of the few people that was both the political leader and the legislative leader of their caucus.”

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