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Scarnati bows out of Senate

Photo submitted to Times Observer Sen. Joe Scarnati (R256)

The President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate is retiring after 20 years.

Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-25th), who represented a portion of Warren County prior to 2012, announced Wednesday that he will not run again when his fifth term ends at the end of the year.

“Today I am announcing that I will not be seeking a sixth term as Senator for the 25th Senatorial District,” Scarnati said in a Wednesday release. “At the end of this year, I will have served the people of the 25th Senatorial district for 20 years.”

“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,” he said. “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.”

The 25th District includes Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Tioga Counties and portions of Clearfield County.

Until the redistricting plan of 2012, Scarnati had represented a portion of Warren County — Mead Township, Clarendon Borough, and the City of Warren.

Scarnati first ran for the state senate in 1996, losing in the Republican primary to Bill Slocum, who went on to win the seat.

Scarnati was elected to the senate in 2001 in a special election after Slocum resigned in 2000. Slocum entered a guilty plea to charges that he dumped raw sewage into Brokenstraw Creek and filed false reports with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Scarnati ran as an independent in that election, defeating Democratic nominee Joseph Calla and Slocum, who was the Republican nominee.

Scarnati still represented parts of Warren County when he was named President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

In that position, Scarnati was the leader of the senate, presided over the senate when the lieutenant governor was not present, and appointed committee chairs.

The President Pro Tem is also second in line of succession for governor. When Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll died in 2008, Scarnati assumed that role.

“With the support of my senate colleagues, I have spent the last 14… years in the position of President Pro Tempore and served as Pennsylvania’s 31st Lieutenant Governor from 2008 to 2011,” Scarnati said. “I have worked with five governors and throughout this time I am proud to have been a leading advocate for rural Pennsylvania values.”

“I came to Harrisburg in 2001 as the first Senator elected as an independent,” Scarnati said. “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,” he said. “At the same time, I have always sought to protect working families and their hard earned tax dollars. Since the days of Gov. 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,” Scarnati said. “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,” he said. “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 80s.”

“Throughout my time in office, I am grateful to have been surrounded by friends and fellow senators whom I respect,” he said. “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,” Scarnati said. “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.”

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