(Reuters) - Democratic Representative Jay Inslee said on Saturday he would step down from Congress later this month to focus on his campaign for governor of Washington state.
Inslee, who has served since 1999, said his resignation would take effect on March 20.
He is vying with Republican Rob McKenna, the state attorney general, to replace Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire. A recent poll had the two rivals tied.
"I am excited about focusing full-time on talking about my job-creation agenda and building a new economy for Washington state," Inslee said in a statement.
Inslee said he took the decision to step down "very recently" after watching Republican presidential candidates pushing a "divisive social issues agenda."
He said seeing state Republicans pursue plans to slash state education funding was also a factor.
Inslee announced he would run for governor after Gregoire said last June she would not seek a third term in 2012.
Inslee's resignation will not affect the balance of power in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Earlier this month, another Democratic representative from Washington state, Norm Dicks, said he would not seek re-election in November.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney)