Hershey Rep. Payne not running, other Midstate lawmakers may follow

“I used to tell my wife, ‘when it stops being fun, I won’t run’,” Representative John Payne (R-Dauphin) said in announcing he would not seek an eighth term in the Pennsylvania House.

The fun is definitely gone for the man from Hershey, and he says budget bickering is playing a part in his departure.

“We got to this fall and it felt like Groundhog Day all over; no budget, no budget, we still don’t have a budget. It’s getting frustrating. You don’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything. Maybe it’s time,” he said.

He’s not alone. Several representatives (Harhart, Major, Adolph, Ross, Evans, Daley) feel Payne’s pain and have already announced they too will hang it up at the close of 2016.

“I don’t blame them,” said Harrisburg’s Patty Kim (D-Dauphin).

Kim will seek a third term, though she hasn’t officially announced that yet, but understands why no budget has many of her colleague saying no more.

“I can imagine if you’ve done this for 10 to 15 years, this is probably the last straw,” she said.

Representative Sue Helm (R-Dauphin) also understands. “It’s time for them to move on and do what they want to do, but this is what I love and that’s why I’m going to stay here.”

Helm announced this week that she’ll seek a sixth term, but fellow Dauphin County Republican Ron Marsico, a 28-year legislator, may not return. Same with Lebanon County Republican Mauree Gingrich. Both Midstaters are said to be considering retirement and both say they’ll announce their intentions next week.

“I’m not ready to jump ship yet,” Helm said with great enthusiasm. “I’m here to hold this governor in line so he can’t raise the taxes.”

Helm, who won her battle with breast cancer last year, seems enthusiastic about the budget battles ahead with Governor Wolf this year.

Not John Payne.

“Where are we on this year’s budget?” he asked while frowning and shaking his head. “It’s the first of four years that this governor’s gonna be here. What makes you believe it’s gonna get any better?”

Payne announced Thursday morning that he wouldn’t seek re-election. By early afternoon, one candidate officially announced for the seat. Payne expects several more to throw their hats in the ring.

By this time next week, there could be several more opportunities for would-be legislators in the Midstate.

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