Blue Dog Heath Shuler won't seek re-election

Feb. 3, 2012 at 10:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition in the U.S. House, said he won't seek re-election in November.

In a statement issued Thursday, Shuler said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"This was not an easy decision," Shuler said. "However, I am confident that it is the right decision. It is a decision I have weighed heavily over the past few months. I have always said family comes first, and I never intended to be a career politician."

He didn't address a redrawn district that made keeping his seat in western North Carolina more difficult, The Hill reported. The GOP-controlled Legislature redrew the district by shifting Democrat pockets elsewhere and adding Republican areas, making it harder for the former NFL quarterback to win re-election.

Shuler, a three-term congressman, became known as a fiscal conservative and broke with party ranks on spending matters, including voting against President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus bill and the healthcare reform package.

He also initiated an unsuccessful attempt to oust Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as the party's leader after the Democrats lost control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections.

Pelosi didn't mention the challenge in a statement issued Thursday, saying only that Shuler's colleagues from both sides of the aisle would miss him, The Hill said.

"Congressman Heath Shuler has been a national leader for fiscal responsibility who has always maintained a laser-like focus on his constituents in western North Carolina," Pelosi said.

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