Pennsylvania’s President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, issued a statement Wednesday evening announcing his intention to retire from the chamber when his term expires at the end of this year.
Scarnati, who has held the third-highest constitutional office in the State for over a decade, also served as the state’s lieutenant governor for two years following the death of former Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll.
He is the second top legislative leader to announce his intention to retire. Last month, House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, announced his plans not to seek re-election.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said in a statement, “We have been fortunate to have Joe’s steady hand at the helm of the Senate, providing critical leadership under circumstances that often were far from perfect. Joe has set an example for all of us with his unmatched ability to build consensus, encourage civility and ensure common sense would prevail.
“His record speaks for itself and his honesty and sincerity is well known to those of us who have served with him. I am confident Joe will channel those qualities into his next path in life. Until then, I look forward to all that we can accomplish as with finish this session under his guidance. He will be missed.”
Here is the full text of Scarnati’s statement:
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) today announced his retirement from the Pennsylvania Senate at the end of his 5th term in office. Senator Scarnati represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Tioga Counties and portions of Clearfield County.
“Today I am announcing that I will not be seeking a 6th term as Senator for the 25th Senatorial District. At the end of this year, I will have served the people of the 25th Senatorial district for 20 years. With the support of my Senate colleagues, I have spent the last 14 of those years in the position of President Pro Tempore and served as Pennsylvania’s 31st Lieutenant Governor from 2008 to 2011. I have worked with five Governors and throughout this time I am proud to have been a leading advocate for rural Pennsylvania values.
“While I am greatly humbled by those who have once again supported my petition to have my name on the ballot, after many conversations with family and close supporters I have made a personal, and not political, decision that I will not be filing my petitions. My concern with leaving office has always been in large part wanting to ensure the 25th Senatorial District is well represented after my departure from the Senate.
“I came to Harrisburg in 2001 as the first Senator elected as an independent. I was disappointed by the choices that our sitting Senator at the time had made, and could not support his candidacy. My independent streak never ended there in my tenure. I have always believed that both sides of the aisle must work together on behalf of our constituents and compromise on issues without compromising on our values. At the same time, I have always sought to protect working families and their hard earned tax dollars. Since the days of Governor Ed Rendell’s Administration, I have actively blocked the massive proposed tax hikes on workers and businesses as proposed by his Administration and others who have followed.
“I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished for the Commonwealth during my time in the Senate. We have overseen the largest Republican majority since Eisenhower was president (34-16). We have protected the unborn by supporting a strong pro-life agenda. We have fought to safeguard our 2nd Amendment rights that the liberal left continues to attack. In 2012, we passed a landmark Marcellus Shale Impact Fee bill to ensure responsible drilling and investments in our local communities. We have prioritized job growth and creation across Pennsylvania. We have fought for historic levels of school safety funding – and will continue that fight.
“I thank my family for their unwavering support over the last two decades. Serving in public office is not something that you do alone. I am looking forward to traveling and spending more time with my wife Amy, our children and grandchild. I also look forward to helping my parents who are both in their 80’s.
“Throughout my time in office, I am grateful to have been surrounded by friends and fellow senators whom I respect. My success has been largely in part because of serving with incredible colleagues and working with a team of talented individuals who are not my staff, but my co-workers. It takes a strong team to serve constituents and to oversee operations of the Senate.
“I sincerely thank my constituents for the honor of representing them. While the announcement of my future departure comes today, I will still be actively engaged in serving my district and the Senate for the next nine months. I also look forward to continuing to lead the effort this year to maintain our Senate Republican Majority. Following my departure from the Senate, I will be taking a more active role in my business and evaluating other opportunities.”