With 27 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Doyle says he's ready to retire and it's time for a generational change.By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh region’s longest-serving congressman is stepping down at the end of his term next year.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Forest Hills Democrat, says it’s time for a generational change. With 27 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Doyle says he’s ready to retire next year when he turns 69.

“I believe the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation,” said Doyle at a press conference Monday afternoon.

The state’s senior congressman says he knew he could win another term, but the creation of a new congressional district required through reapportionment made this the right time for new leadership.

“The redistricting will change this district and most likely push part of it outside Allegheny County. This is a good transition time for a new member to start in a newly drawn district,” he said.

Doyle got emotional as he thanked friends and family.

“I want to thank my family and friends who always stood by me, but no one more so than my best friend in the world, my wife Susan,” he said. “There were many times when I was an absentee husband and father during my career, but my wife Susan always supported and encouraged me. I am a very lucky man to have had her by my side these last 46 years.”

Local Democratic political strategist Mike Mikus, who worked with Doyle in 2020, observed, “He was somebody who wasn’t there to showboat, wasn’t always running towards every camera. But he did the job and he delivered.”

Doyle estimates he delivered over a billion federal dollars to the region from technology, robotics and artificial intelligence to roads, bridges and the Civic Arena project reuniting the Hill District.

So what’s next for him?

WATCH: Jon Delano Reports

“We love to travel so we’ll be doing that obviously,” he said.

In a one-on-one interview with KDKA political editor Jon Delano, Doyle was asked what’s on his bucket list for retirement.

“I speak a little bit of French and I want to be more fluent in it. I thought about language lessons,” he said. “I play the piano but not as well as I’d like to. I think about piano lessons.”

Travel, French, and piano — that’s only part of his list.

Doyle’s decision not to seek a 15th term is expected to open the floodgates to many who would like to serve in Congress.

“Over the next few weeks and months, we’re going to see a whole parade of candidates because, as you know, congressional seats can be held on for many, many years,” said Khari Mosley, a local Democratic political analyst. “This is maybe a once in a generation shot.”

And with just eight months to go, interested candidates must act now, say local Democratic strategists.

“It’s absolutely imperative for anyone who wants to run for this seat to decide as quickly as possible, put an organization together, start raising money and also building political support,” said Mikus. “With a big field, it’s going to be a dog fight.”

Jerry Dickinson, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, announced his candidacy earlier this year, and he says he expects many politicians to jump in the race now.

“I’m an educator, a law professor, a civil rights lawyer, so I am not an elected official. I am not a politician. I’m not playing politics here. I’m just stepping away from my career to do what’s best for southwestern Pennsylvania,” says Dickinson.

Another likely candidate is Pennsylvania Rep. Summer Lee, who filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday and is expected to announce her candidacy shortly.

Nobody is sure what the congressional district will look like after reapportionment.

Doyle predicts the district will move into Washington or Westmoreland counties, or both, and he hopes Democrats will get to choose among conservative and moderate Democrats, progressive Democrats and Democratic socialists.

“I hope there’s a robust field, Jon, that spans the entirety of the Democratic Party,” says Doyle.

Doyle calls himself a pragmatic progressive, but at this stage says he has no preferred candidate to succeed him.

This open seat, coupled with one in the suburbs of Pittsburgh now held by U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb running for the U.S. Senate, presents a unique opportunity for aspiring wannabe members of Congress.