A day after Democrats made history in Montgomery County by taking a majority of the county commissioner seats, Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-6th Dist.) made a choice.
He endorsed Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president.
His choice is very understandable.
The announcement was made through his re-election campaign, a near-permanent enterprise made necessarily by the razor-thin margins with which Gerlach has won reelection three times.
It is not yet clear (to me at least) what Gerlach's new Congressional district will look like, but if history is any teacher, it will be shifted to include even more loyal Republican voters.
His current district includes Pottstown, but not the three surrounding Pottsgrove townships, which were sliced off and handed over to a Lehigh County-based congressman, Charlie Dent, during the last redistricting 10 years ago.
He has another portion of Montgomery County, which has an increasingly Democratic-leaning voter base, but that has been offset each election by heavy Republican votes in Chester County and, to a lesser extent, Berks County -- but only barely.
As I reported last month, during his entire tenure in the House of Representatives, of all 1,740 general house election races since 2002, Gerlach's reelection has been the only one in the country decided by less than 5 percentage points each time.
Gerlach knows close calls well, which is perhaps why he tried to make lemonade from lemons and parlay his long political career into a brief run for governor. (He also knows, apparently, that as goes Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, so go Pennsylvania elections.)
It's unclear whether Gerlach offered his support for Romney (or was asked for it) before or after the only Montgomery County candidate associated with the Tea Party (Jenny Brown) also received the lowest vote total of the county commissioner election.
A call to his campaign office seeking comment was not returned.
Nevertheless, when viewing the wild fluctuations and turbulent personalities involved in this year's Republican contest -- Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul -- it's probably not surprising that Gerlach chose safety.
His only other real choice in a year in which more far-reaching Republican initiatives and candidates were defeated at the polls, was Jon Huntsman. But here again, Gerlach was smart enough to pick the candidate more likely to win.
Here is the announcement as it appeared in my e-mail in-box:
Mitt Romney today announced the support of Pennsylvania Congressman Jim Gerlach.“President Obama’s massive stimulus bills have not helped Pennsylvania,” said Mitt Romney. “Instead of creating jobs, President Obama has just increased government spending. I will work with leaders like Congressman Gerlach to cut spending and get our economy on the right track so that Pennsylvanians know their children will have a bright future.”
“It is clear that President Obama’s policies of the last three years have failed,” said Congressman Jim Gerlach. “At a time when our budget deficits have skyrocketed and unemployment remains dangerously high, we need a radically different approach in Washington. Mitt Romney has demonstrated that conservative leadership and solutions can fix the problems our country faces. I look forward to working with him to address these issues.”