Rep. Brown-Waite announces retirement, citing 'persistent health problems'

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) announced Friday she won't run for a fifth term. She cited health concerns as her reason for leaving politics.

"As I have prepared for my campaign, I have been troubled by persistent health problems and have come to the disappointing and sad conclusion that I cannot run for reelection," she said in a statement. "There are simply too many unresolved issues around my health and my pancreas in particular. As of this morning, my doctors are still undecided about what course to pursue next for my treatments."

Brown-Waite said she's backing Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent (R) to succeed her.

"I know him to be a strong conservative who will continue my fight for veterans and seniors," she said.

Florida's 5th district is heavily Republican. Brown-Waite won reelection in 2008 by more than 20 points, the same year her district went heavily for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Nugent promised to wage a vigorous campaign. "I am proud to continue her fight on their behalf and thank Ginny for her service and sacrifice," he said in a statement.

Some observers expected Brown-Waite to call it quits back in February when she called a press conference to make a "major announcement." Instead, she announced her engagement to businessman Tony Selvaggio.

--Eric Zimmermann contributed to this report.