GOP chairman John Kline to retire
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this Congress.

"After much careful thought and deliberation, I have decided not to seek re-election next year," Kline wrote in a Facebook post.

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Kline's retirement after 12 years in the House comes as his committee is trying to advance a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law. 

Should he have stayed in Congress, the Minnesota Republican would have lost the Education Committee gavel at the end of 2016 due to the GOP's term limits for chairmanships.

Republican committee chairmen facing term limits frequently opt to retire instead of returning to life as a rank-and-file member. Multiple committee chairmen at the end of their terms chose to retire last year, including former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.).

Kline is the second lawmaker chairing a House committee to retire this year. House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.), who is the GOP’s only female committee chair, announced in March she would not seek reelection.

With the clock now ticking on his time in Congress, Kline pledged to continue working on making the No Child Left Behind update become law.

“I want to be clear — much more work lies ahead in the next 16 months. As Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee I look forward to replacing No Child Left Behind and reducing the federal footprint in our schools,” Kline wrote in the Facebook post.

The House narrowly passed its version of the education legislation in July in a 218-213 vote that nearly melted down on the floor. Many Republicans held out their votes until the last possible second or changed their votes under pressure from House GOP leaders.

Kline’s retirement opens up a powerful committee chairmanship for the next Congress. Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonTrump calls North Carolina redistricting ruling ‘unfair’ Sacha Baron Cohen mulls arming toddlers with guns in inaugural episode Why civility in politics won't be getting any better MORE (R-S.C.) is next in seniority, followed by Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxA 2 billion challenge: Transforming US grant reporting Trump calls North Carolina redistricting ruling ‘unfair’ Women poised to take charge in Dem majority MORE (R-N.C.), a leadership ally who sits on the House Rules Committee.

The race for Kline’s House seat could also be competitive next year. Liberal comedian Bill Maher unsuccessfully launched a campaign to flip Kline’s district in 2014, but Kline still easily won reelection.

President Obama narrowly won the district in 2012 over Mitt Romney, even as voters split the ticket to reelect Kline.

Republicans expressed confidence that they would be able to prevent the seat from flipping in 2016 to Democrats - known in Minnesota as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party.

"This district clearly favors a Republican congressional candidate and with two true-blue liberals pulling each other to the left in search of the DFL primary endorsement, we are confident that the seat will remain in GOP hands," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Zach Hunter said.
 
Two Democrats, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence, have already announced their candidacies for the seat. Some Democrats think recent redistricting could also help them win the seat, especially in a presidential year.
 
One Republican, David Gerson, had previously declared he would run in the GOP primary before Kline's announcement. But more Republicans may choose to run now that they will no longer face a longtime incumbent.
 
This story was updated at 12:50