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.