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Centrist GOP Rep. Gerlach to retire

Centrist Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach won't seek re-election to his eastern Pennsylvania district this fall, creating a pickup opportunity for Democrats. 

Gerlach said in a statement that he had opted against seeking a seventh term in Congress. The news was first reported by PoliticsPA. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney narrowly carried the district in 2012 after its boundaries were shored up during the latest round of redistricting. 

"Nearing the end of my sixth term in the House and following 12 years of public service in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, it is simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family, who have been extremely supportive and have made significant sacrifices during my tenure in public office," Gerlach said in a statement.

Before that, Gerlach won even as Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and Barack Obama carried his district in 2004 and 2008. 

Democrats have previously targeted Gerlach for defeat, but ultimately fell short. Democrats need to gain a net of 17 seats this November in order to win back control of the House from Republicans, a generally tall task at this stage. 

Moreover, Gerlach's decision to retire adds to the ranks of moderate Republicans to announce their decision to leave Congress at their current terms.