JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Republican leader of a congressional committee says he won't seek re-election this year.
Rep. Gregg Harper of Mississippi was first elected in 2008. He said Thursday that he never intended to make a career in Congress, and "10 years will be long enough."
The 61-year-old is chairman of the House Administration Committee .
He is an ally of Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, fellow Republicans. Harper has been widely seen as someone Bryant might appoint to the Senate if the 80-year-old Cochran retires. Cochran, who has had health problems, is midway through a six-year term.
In his statement Thursday, Harper expressed no interest in the Senate.
Harper's decision not to seek re-election creates an opening in central Mississippi's 3rd District.
Candidates' qualifying deadline is March 1.
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) released a statement expressing their friendship.
"Gregg Harper has been a hardworking and dedicated Congressman and it has been a pleasure to work with him. I commend him for his ongoing service to Mississippi and the nation. He is a good friend who has represented our state well."