Long-serving U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Pittsburgh is retiring

State Rep. Summer Lee and Pitt Law prof Jerry Dickinson could be among the contenders to replace him

By: - October 18, 2021 3:36 pm

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-18th District (Pittsburgh City Paper photo)

By Lisa Cunningham

PITTSBURGH — After more than a quarter of century serving Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas in Congress, U.S. Mike Doyle, D-18th District, says his current term will be last.

“I believe the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation,” Doyle said, as he announced his retirement during a Monday press conference at his South Side office.

Among the reasons for not seeking re-election, Doyle said the pandemic has accelerated his plans for retirement and noted that redistricting means a “good transition time for a new member to start in a newly drawn district.”

Doyle has had a pretty progressive voting record in Congress, especially over the last several years, and has maintained a solid base of support throughout his career on Capitol Hill. He has been one of the most consistent sponsors of legislation to create a single-payer health system in America, and has taken up issues like protecting net neutrality. Doyle currently serves as the Chair of the House’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Born in Swissvale, he graduated from Penn State University in 1975 and worked in the steel mills during the summers while in college. He was once a registered Republican, but switched parties in the 1980s, like his former boss, state Sen. Frank Pecora. In 1995, he took over what was Rick Santorum’s district, and held it ever since.

Pennsylvania is set to lose one of its Congressional districts and will have a total of 17 after redrawing. The state has yet to submit the redrawing of its districts after the 2020 Census, but it’s likely the Pittsburgh area will maintain at least one solidly Democratic district.

Doyle’s retirement opens up what is likely to be a crowded and competitive Democratic primary field. Hours before Doyle’s announcement, state Rep. Summer Lee, of Swissvale, filed a statement of candidacy for the seat. Lee has not yet formally made an announcement.

She joins University of Pittsburgh law professor Jerry Dickinson, who announced his run several months ago.

“From the start of this campaign one thing has been clear: Pittsburgh is ready for a new direction,” Dickinson said in a statement sent to Pittsburgh City Paper. “I’m not a career politician, and I’m not running for Congress just to rise through the political ranks or to advance my career.”

Dickinson thanked Doyle for his service to the country and the region. “For 26 years, he has represented Western Pennsylvania with dignity and advocated passionately for our communities in Washington,” he wrote in the statement. But, he also noted that Doyle’s announcement “comes on the heels of the second straight fundraising quarter” where he was outraised by Dickinson. Dickinson states that his campaign has raised over $330,000 — 100% of which came from individual contributors.

“Today’s announcement by Congressman Doyle truly marks the end of an era,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in a statement. Fitzgerald named Doyle one of his mentors, saying Pittsburgh owes a “great deal” to him, naming contributions like development in East Liberty, funding for the North Shore Connector, and investments in technological innovations and robotics in Hazelwood Green and Lawrenceville.

“He is the best Congressman that Pittsburgh has ever had,” Fitzgerald said.

Lisa Cunningham is the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared. City Paper Managing Editor Ryan Deto contributed additional reporting. 

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