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Updated: 7:35 p.m.
Rep. Geoff Davis announced today that he will not seek another term in Congress.
"In order to devote more time to my family, I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement posted on his website. "It is an honor to have the trust and confidence of the citizens of Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District."
Davis, who was first elected in 2004, is the first House Republican to announce his or her retirement this year without seeking another office. Nine House Democrats have announced their outright retirement so far this Congress.
“I thank the people of Kentucky’s Fourth District for this honor and look forward to continued service to our community and to our Republic in other capacities as I return to the private sector,” Davis continued. “I also want to thank my friend and mentor, former Senator Jim Bunning, for his example of steadfast character and unimpeachable integrity in service.”
Republicans will likely hold on to Davis’ northern Kentucky district in 2012 if state legislators do not drastically change it during redistricting. It’s solid GOP territory that Davis won with 69 percent last year, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won with 60 percent in the 2008 presidential race.
Kentucky insiders and former Davis staffers seemed shocked by the Congressman’s sudden announcement. But local Republicans began to name a few potential candidates who might run in 2012.
Republicans mentioned state Rep. Adam Koenig, state Sen. Damon Thayer, Campbell County businessman Kevin Sell, state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington, state Senate President Pro Tem Katie Kratz Stine and conservative blogger Marcus Carey as potential GOP candidates.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) former top aide, Hunter Bates, also lives in the area and could run for the seat, according to one Republican operative. In 2003, Bates ran for lieutenant governor, but a judge ruled he did not meet the state’s residency requirement and he withdrew from the GOP ticket.
In 2004, former television broadcaster Nick Clooney (D), the father of actor George Clooney, ran for this seat and lost to Davis.
But this is a GOP district, so the most competitive race will probably be the GOP primary on May 22. Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist from Kentucky, said that because this is Bunning’s old district, his influence will likely loom large in the primary.
“This is the former Congressional district of former Sen. Jim Bunning,” Jennings said. “He’s obviously a legend and icon in that district, and his endorsement would be the most sought-after of any candidate in this race, in a primary.”
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) praised Davis for his efforts in assisting the GOP's campaign arm in recent cycles.