Lehigh Valley

State Rep. drops out of 15th Congressional race

Justin Simmons announced candidacy in September

The first candidate to announce a run for the seat being vacated by Congressman Charlie Dent has already suspended his candidacy.

Justin Simmons announced Friday that he's suspending his candidacy for the 15th Congressional District. Simmons, a Republican representing the 131st state House District, announced in September his bid for the seat currently held by Dent.

Simmons indicated in a news release that he has chosen to instead focus on state issues and his family.

“It has become clear that running for, and possibly serving in, Congress are not conducive to the commitment I must keep to my family, especially my young daughter," he said.

“Even as I remove my name from consideration, I will continue working to ensure that our Party unites and sends new conservative leadership to Congress next year,” he said.

Simmons had harshly criticized Dent as being a "liberal Republican." Dent, meanwhile, said he welcomed a challenge from Simmon's "failed record in Harrisburg." Dent made his comments shortly before announcing he wouldn't seek re-election, a decision he said he'd been considering for months.

Since Simmons announced his candidacy, the possible field to replace Dent has become a crowded one.

Republican state Rep. Ryan MacKenzie formally announced his candidacy shortly after Simmons. Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein, who was elected to the board last year, announced his candidacy in October, and Republican Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries said Thursday he's running in next year's primary.

The Associated Press reports that ex-CIA officer Scott Uehlinger will also seek the Republican nomination.

On the Democratic side of the ticket, former Lehigh County Commissioner Bill Leiner and Allentown Pastor Greg Edwards have announced plans to run. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and Alan Jennings, the long-time executive director of Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, said they're considering a run in the Democratic primary.

The 15th Congressional District includes Lehigh County and portions of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon and Northampton counties.

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