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Doyle to make 'major announcement' concerning re-election amid expectations of retirement

Matt Nemeth
90.5 WESA

Update: U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle announced his retirement Monday afternoon. Read the story here.

Congressman Mike Doyle will make what his office calls "a major announcement about the 2022 elections" today amid expectations that the 14-term Congressman will retire at the end of his term rather than run for re-election next year.

A brief statement said Doyle will be holding a press conference at 1 p.m. this afternoon. Doyle did not respond directly when asked about his plans early Monday but said a statement would be forthcoming this afternoon.

Doyle, who has become the dean of Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation since first taking office in 1995, sent out the press advisory shortly before 7 a.m. Monday morning. But multiple local Democrats told WESA last week and during the weekend that they expected him to announce plans to retire today.

Doyle faces a challenge from the left in next year's Democratic primary. And if he were to win, it might only be to confront the prospect of being a member of the minority party in the U.S. House in an off-year election where signs point to Republican gains.

Doyle faces a challenge from University of Pittsburgh law professor Jerry Dickinson. And state Rep. Summer Lee, a standard-bearer for a progressive movement in Pittsburgh, has been rumored as a potential contender for months. Lee filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission for a Congressional run on Monday morning.

Both Lee and Dickinson are to the left of Doyle, which means his departure from the race could create an opening for a more moderate Democrat.

Since being elected as one of five freshman legislators from Pennsylvania in 1994, Doyle, 68, rose to chair a subcommittee on communications and technology. Elected from a region that has tried to shift its economy from steel to technology, Doyle has taken up a number of tech-related causes, including the expansion of high-speed broadband internet service, net neutrality and energy issues. He also co-founded a caucus dedicated to robotics — and coached House Democrats in charity baseball games with their Republican rivals across the aisle.

Doyle also has maintained his roots as a western Pennsylvania labor Democrat, receiving an almost-perfect 98 rating from the AFL-CIO. A skeptic of trade deals, he voted in 2019 in favor of a Trump Administration trade agreement that superseded Democrat Bill Clinton’s NAFTA. And he was willing to take a stand — or a seat — on issues such as gun violence when he joined dozens of Democrats in a sit-in on the House floor to demand action on gun control legislation. He took a difficult vote to oppose authorizing military action against Iraq in 2002.

In the past, Doyle has had little difficulty securing re-election. He brushed back a challenge from Dickinson by a two-to-one margin last year, but Doyle’s fundraising prowess has rarely been put to the test, and Dickinson outraised him in the past two quarters, tapping a network of fellow lawyers and grassroots donors through the Democrats’ online-donation vehicle, ActBlue. Doyle's modest fundraising has added to uncertainty about the strength of a progressive challenge — a threat that became increasingly real after Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto succumbed to a challenge from his left in last spring's Democratic primary.

* This story was updated at 10:44 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2021 to note Summer Lee's federal campaign filings.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.