Top North Carolina Republican Declines Hagan Challenge | #NCSEN

Hagan will seek re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced on Monday that he will not challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014, relieving the GOP of a brutal primary between two of the state's top lawmakers.

Berger had toyed with entering the crowded GOP cast of candidates — including state Speaker Thom Tillis — looking to unseat Hagan for several months.

"It's just not the right time for me," Berger said, according to local North Carolina radio station WRAL. "That has a lot to do with the situation at the state level. There's a lot of things we've started that I want to see finished."

Berger's decision leaves the GOP field at three, with Tillis as the presumed front-runner. Physician Greg Brannon, a tea party favorite, and Baptist pastor Mark Harris are also seeking the Republican nomination.

Hagan is considered to be one of the more vulnerable Senate Democrats running for re-election this cycle. North Carolina voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney with 50 percent in 2012.

The North Carolina Senate race is rated a Toss-up/Tilt Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.