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Another Moderate PA Republican May Hit The Road

(Harrisburg) -- One of the most middle-of-the-road Republicans in Pennsylvania's state House may be taking his leave.

Gene DiGirolamo is running for Bucks County Commissioner this year. If he wins, he'll join a lengthening list of southeastern GOP-ers heading out of Harrisburg.

For almost 25 years, DiGirolamo has charted a moderate course in his Philadelphia-adjacent 18th District, even as his party has moved steadily right.

He has bucked party lines to back a doomed natural gas severance tax, among other things, and has pushed for more robust mental health and drug addiction funding as Human Services chair. He's a relatively rare Pennsylvania Republican with high ratings from environmental groups.

And last year, he said he and similarly-minded southeastern colleagues saw the writing on the wall.

"We got cut in half," he said of the southeast GOP caucus dwindling suddenly from 28 to 14 seats. "That was just an eye-opening experience, I think, for everybody."

The region moving left isn't the primary reason DiGirolamo said he's running for commissioner, though.

Another Republican commissioner, Charley Martin, is retiring.

DiGirolamo said the party approached him after deeming him a good choice to keep the county in GOP hands.

"It was a tough decision but once I made it--can't look back," he said.

And though he is now firmly on the county campaign trail, the longtime representative still has some advice for Harrisburg's moderate holdouts.

"There is no question that 2020 will be a challenging time for southeast Republicans," he said. "Sometimes we just get caught up in the national trends and stuff, but boy, you've got to work your district."

DiGirolamo's facing an endorsement vote from the Bucks County GOP this week.

If he wins his bid, he'll exit the state House in November. If not, he said he may try to stick around.