Updated 11:30 a.m. December 23 | After representing Virginia's 5th District for just three terms, GOP Rep. Robert Hurt will retire at the end of this term, he announced Wednesday.
Several Republican sources had confirmed to Roll Call on Tuesday that Hurt would retire at the end of this term.
The open seat should give Democrats a better opportunity to win, but it won’t vault into the first or second tier of opportunities. Mitt Romney carried the 5th District by 7 points in 2012 and Arizona Sen. John McCain won it by 3 points in 2008. Republican Ken Cuccinelli won the district by 10 points, 51-41 percent, over Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the 2013 gubernatorial race, according to Daily Kos Elections . The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating remains Safe Republican until Democrats prove that it is a serious takeover opportunity.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Hurt said he never envisioned making politics a career.
“I ran because I believed then as I do now that every citizen should contribute in his or her own way to ensure a vibrant representative democracy,” he said. “But I also believed then as I do now that it is not our elected leaders who make our country great, but it is, rather, the private citizen and the private economy that make this country great.”
Republican operatives mentioned several state lawmakers who could be interested in running for Hurt's seat, including Sens. William Stanley Jr., Thomas Garrett, Jill Vogel and Del. Robert Bell, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for attorney general in 2013.
Republicans emphasized, however, that it would be a crowded field with many more names likely to come forward.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Pack said in a statement that " We fully expect to keep Virginia’s 5th District in Republican control as voters continue to be fed up with the failed policies of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.”
Democrat Jane Dittmar, chairwoman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, got into the race in September. Ericke Cage, who worked for one-term Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello, has been in the race since the spring.