HARRISBURG - State Sen. Connie Williams, a Democrat from Montgomery County who managed to win in the Republican suburbs for a decade, will not seek reelection.
Williams' retirement could set the stage for a hard-fought and expensive race between Democrats and Republicans. Her term expires at the end 2008.
In an interview yesterday, Williams, 63, said that her decision had been difficult, but that although she had enjoyed the life of an elected official in Harrisburg, "it is not my only life."
"I'm proud of what I've done, but I think someone else should have a chance," she said. "Younger people should have a chance at the seat."
Williams, who noted her work on behalf of children, families and the environment, announced her decision Wednesday. On the same day, Democratic State Rep. Daylin Leach announced he would run for her seat.
Republican lawyer Lance Rogers, a Lower Merion Township commissioner, has said he is considering a run and will decide early next year. The Senate has a 29-21 GOP majority.
Williams' district covers the Montgomery County municipalities of East Norriton, Lower Merion, Plymouth, Upper Merion, Bridgeport, Conshohocken, Narberth, Norristown and West Conshohocken and the Delaware County townships of Haverford and Radnor.
Williams, the daughter of oil magnate Leon Hess, first came to Harrisburg as a representative in 1997, a position she held until she won the 2001 special election to replace Republican Sen. Richard Tilghman, who was retiring.
Most recently, Williams was behind the successful push for a law that bars local governments from prohibiting breast-feeding in public and prohibits it from being considered indecent exposure.
Williams is one of three senators who have announced they will not seek reelection. The others are Sens. Gibson E. Armstrong (R., Lancaster) and Roger A. Madigan (R., Bradford).
Aside from Leach, nine representatives have announced they will not not seek reelection, including Reps. David Steil (R., Bucks), Arthur Hershey (R., Chester) and Carole Rubley (R., Chester).