State Rep. Mike Vereb, the former Montgomery County GOP chairman and current leader of a bipartisan commission on school-finance reform, will not seek reelection this year.
"Harrisburg certainly has become like the Bickersons on steroids," Vereb said Tuesday. He will leave office at the end of his term, after a decade serving his northern Montgomery County district. "I felt proud to be a part of it, but . . . you look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Wow, it's time, isn't it?' "
Vereb, 49, resigned as county chairman soon after the November election, in which Democrats swept the countywide races. He said his role as chairman was always supposed to be temporary - stepping in to fix large fund-raising deficits, declining registration, and a scandal involving the previous chairman.
"Even if we took the courthouse back, I was leaving," he said. "When we lose elections by 17,000 votes in one race, that's far from one individual's fault. That's a catastrophic political failure, so I can't hold myself responsible for that."
Vereb, a moderate, came under attack in recent years from the far-right flank of his party. In October, Republican strategist Ryan Shafik offered to work free for any candidate who would challenge Vereb in the primary.
"Vereb always 'talks' a big conservative game to people but does the opposite behind the scenes in Harrisburg," Shafik wrote in an email blast.
In Norristown, commissioner candidate Joe Gale accused Vereb of sabotaging his campaign because Gale was running against the wishes of party leaders. Gale won and now is the only Republican to hold a county seat.
Vereb served several leadership roles in the House, including two terms as Republican caucus secretary. He also cochairs the Basic Education Funding Commission, which in June recommended a new formula to more fairly distribute funds to school districts across Pennsylvania. He also chairs SEPTA's safety board and sits on the governor's Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
A former West Conshohocken police officer, he sponsored several public safety bills, including one that allows crime victims to seek a court injunction to bar the perpetrator from doing things that would cause mental anguish or revictimization. That law was sparked by convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who in 2014 made a series of public speeches and commencement addresses. A federal judge later struck down the law as unconstitutional.
Vereb, of West Norriton, said he already had another job lined up and joked: "I'm going to be the new Eagles coach." He would not give details about the actual job but said it would not be in politics.