Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, a farm boy who rose to became one of South Carolina's most powerful politicians, announced Monday he will not seek a sixth term in Congress so he can spend more time with his family.
"While this has been a difficult decision to make, I'm convinced that this is the right time for me to step down," Brown said in a statement.
The 74-year-old said he wants to spend more time with his wife of 54 years, Billye, and his three children and five grandchildren.
Brown, first elected in 2000 in a reliably Republican district along the South Carolina coast, said he considered retiring two years ago but ran in 2008 because he felt he could make a contribution no matter who was elected president.
"Despite my many disagreements with the political and legislative direction of our country under the present administration, I leave office with the highest faith in the people of this great nation," he said.
Brown said he is making the announcement now to give other candidates a chance to run for the seat. Three Democrats and three Republicans have already announced they intend to run.
Brown was raised on a farm in Cordesville, S.C., and later became an executive of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain, a job he left at 49 to become a full-time lawmaker.
He won the 1st District seat when now-Gov. Mark Sanford left to honor a self-imposed three-term limit.
In Congress, Brown worked on issues including port security and finding money to build Interstate 73, a new link between Myrtle Beach and the Midwest.
Before that, he served 14 years in the South Carolina House of Representatives, where from 1995 through 1999 he was chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.