Tom Quigley had not been out of office long before he began plotting his comeback.
"I went on some job interviews, and the question would come, 'Are you finished with the politics?' " said Quigley, 51. "And I really wasn't."
In November, he won back his old Pennsylvania House seat by eight percentage points. The 146th District - covering Royersford, Limerick, Perkiomen, Trappe, Lower Pottsgrove, and parts of Pottstown - had been in Democratic hands only two years.
State Rep. Mike Vereb, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, said Quigley's loss in 2012 to Democrat Mark Painter was little more than a fluke.
"Tom got swept up in that Obama tide," Vereb said. Painter won by 208 votes - less than 1 percent.
Quigley gave Painter, whom he also defeated in 2010, a good deal of credit, saying he campaigned hard in 2012 and "did everything in his control to put himself in a position so the outside factors - higher than normal turnout in presidential year, higher Democratic turnout - would go in his favor."
Similar dynamics could have gone poorly for Quigley in November - mailers had attempted to tie Quigley to the unpopular Republican governor, and Democrat Tom Wolf carried the 146th District by nearly nine percentage points.
Quigley said he benefited from intra-party battles leading up to the general election. He had been campaigning since January 2013, first for the county endorsement, then for the primary nomination.
"When you're fighting an incumbent who has the ability to send out newsletters, e-mails, press releases," he said, "you really need that early exposure."
Redistricting may have helped his campaign as well. This was the first election using the new lines, which give Republicans a 3 percent edge in registration. The district had previously leaned slightly Democratic, although Painter was the only Democrat to ever win the seat.
"It's a close seat. Mark had done a really good job in terms of reaching out to the constituency," said Marcel Groen, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee, who alluded to the possibility of a fourth Painter-Quigley showdown in 2016.
"I don't think that saga has been completely finished yet."
Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus, said redistricting was "a small contributing factor." But he said Quigley "got a turbo boost from lots of October mail and advertising" funded by the state party.
According to Vereb, "There is not a Republican in the House that did not want Tom back. It was the No. 1 priority for the MCRC and one of the top three for the House Republican Campaign Committee."
With Painter's win in 2012, Montgomery County's House delegation had switched to an 8-7 Democratic majority. With Quigley's return, it switches back in Republicans' favor.
"Outside of the political realm and the victory, the enthusiasm it gives our committee people," Vereb said, "Tom was a huge advocate for property tax elimination."
Property taxes are one of the biggest complaints countywide, and many voters in suburban districts such as the 146th - where 70 percent to 80 percent of education funding comes from local taxes - want to see a new system for taxation and the school funding formula, Quigley said.
Committee assignments have yet to be decided, but Quigley said he would be happy to return to some of the issues he worked on during his previous four terms in the House - liquor control, finance, education, and appropriations.
Quigley, who is single, moved to Royersford in the 1990s because it reminded him of his where he grew up, in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.
"Same type of small-town atmosphere, main street, houses close together, little churches," he said.
He served as a Royersford councilman and mayor from 1998 to 2005, and aside from his two-year hiatus, considers himself a career legislator.
"I'm just happy to be back right now," he said. "We'll see what we can do in this upcoming session and go from there."