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State Senate President will not seek re-election

HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati will not seek re-election, he told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Scarnati, 58, a fifth-term Republican from Brockway in northwestern Pennsylvania, said he wrestled with the decision to step down after 14 years in a job steering a Republican majority through turbulent elections and fights in the Capitol.

But it’s the right time, he said, adding that the decision was personal and not political.

“After 20 years, I always like to say, it’s good to go out and go out on top,” he said.

Scarnati said he will remain in his role until the legislative term ends Nov. 30.

Scarnati rose quickly, becoming Senate president in 2007 with the endorsement of his predecessor after just six years in the chamber. He since has had to straddle the demands of Democratic governors and, in the Legislature’s Republican majorities, hard-line conservatives and moderates.

In recent years, Scarnati was transactional, as much as anything. He allowed hard-line conservative bills through the chamber, even if they were destined for a veto on the desk of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

But he also worked to secure the votes in his caucus to strike deals on matters important to Wolf, whether to impose a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production or to raise the minimum wage.

At the same time, he continually secured state dollars for his sprawling district, including to expand a major hospital there, to start an open-enrollment college and to pay property taxes to school districts for state-owned lands.

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