By Josh Lederman - 12/15/11 11:41 PM EST
Rep. Geoff Davis, who has represented Kentucky in the House since 2005, announced Thursday that he will not seek another term, becoming the first Republican to decide to retire in 2013 who is not seeking another office.
Davis, who serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, cited a desire to spend more time with his family in declining to pursue a fifth term.
Davis’s Northern Kentucky district, which leans heavily Republican, is likely to stay in GOP control, although the once-per-decade redistricting process is still under way in Kentucky and the new boundaries of the district he is vacating have yet to be determined by the state legislature (Democrats control the Kentucky state House, while the state Senate has a Republican majority).
Still, Davis’s retirement will give Democrats an opportunity to push back against Republican claims that the high number of Democratic retirements signals a sense of panic and a desire by Democrats to cut their losses.
Under the current boundaries, voters in the district chose Sen. John McCain over President Obama in the 2008 presidential contest, and gave the Arizona Republican 60 percent of the vote. Four years earlier, President George W. Bush took 63 percent in the district.
Davis's retirement is likely to lead to a crowded GOP primary, said a Kentucky Republican strategist. Possible contenders include Steve Pendery, an elected county official; state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington (R), a district GOP chair; and state Rep. Sal Santoro (R).
Davis, a former Army Ranger and West Point graduate, won with 54 percent of the vote when he was elected to replace former Rep. Ken Lucas (D-Ky.), who retired. But two years later, Democrats persuaded Lucas to run for his old seat, and Davis defeated him by just a 9-point margin.
“Geoff Davis has brought to Congress a wealth of experience and leadership abilities that quickly made him an influential member of the Republican Conference and an exemplary representative of Kentucky families and job creators,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said in a news release.
- This post was updated at 8:32 p.m.