Lehigh Valley House Repubs Hahn, Simmons announce they’re retiring in 2020

    The Lehigh Valley House Republican delegation. Rep. Marcia Hahn is center, and Rep. Justin Simmons is back right. (Courtesy of Hahn's Facebook)

    Two Lehigh Valley House lawmakers announced their retirement Thursday, bringing the total to seven who have said they will step down in 2020.

    Reps. Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton, and Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh, said in separate press releases that they would not run for reelection. Both were first elected in 2010.

    Hahn represents the 138th District, which stretches from the Monroe County border through Bath down to the outskirts of Bethlehem. 

    In a statement, Hahn said that “it has been the privilege of a lifetime” to represent the district. 

    “For nearly a decade, I have advocated for smaller government, better education and for assistance to our state’s critical agriculture industry,” Hahn said. “I am proud that, in many cases, I have succeeded in delivering the people of Northampton county with the representation they deserve.”

    Hahn was first elected in a May 2010 special election, and her website cited property tax reform as a top priority.

    In her tenure, she passed laws letting parents force children diagnosed with substance abuse into treatment and provided tax breaks to farmers, according to her legislative website.

     

    Simmons represents the 131st District, which includes the Allentown suburbs of Upper and Lower Saucon, Coopersburg, Emmaus, and the northwestern corner of Montgomery County around East Greensville.

    Simmons won office by beating a Republican incumbent in the 2010 primary. At the time, he promised to limit himself to three terms. He served five.

    In a statement, Simmons called his retirement “a bittersweet moment,” saying he spent his tenure fighting for policies to “protect taxpayers” and “spark job growth.”

    “I am proud of the record I have built advocating for the principles I have espoused throughout my career while still working across the aisle,” Simmons said in a statement. “My service in the State House is, and always will be, a highlight in both my professional and personal life.” 

    Simmons sponsored and passed laws to expand local referendums on taxes and to provide legal immunity to bus drivers who use an epi-pen in aid of a student.

    He also ran a primary campaign against former Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent in 2018. While Dent announced his retirement soon after, Simmons dropped out months before the election.

    Running for reelection last year, Simmons won 53-47 percent against a Democratic challenger after clearing 60 percent of the vote in 2016, according to Ballotpedia. Hahn, meanwhile, won reelection in 2018 by nearly 18 percentage points.

    But in his reelection romp, Gov. Tom Wolf won both districts, according to election analyst Ben Forstate. Wolf took 53 percent of the vote in the 131st and 52 percent in the 138th.

    Suburban seats such as  Simmons’ in the eastern half of the state, either around Philadelphia or in the Lehigh Valley, are prime targets for Democrats hoping to flip the state House in 2020. 

    At least one Democratic group has already included the 131st on its target list.