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U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper will not run for re-election this year, he told his staff on Thursday morning.
Harper, a Republican, has served Mississippi’s third congressional district since 2009.
“Serving as a Member of the United States House of Representatives has been the highest privilege and honor of my life,” Harper said in a statement released today.
“The opportunity to serve the people of the Third District, our state, and our country is something that my wife, Sidney, and I will never forget. We have been contemplating for almost two years when it would be our time not to run again, and after spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough. I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us. I will work hard over the final 12 months of my term this year, but I will not seek re-election for a sixth term.”
You can read his full statement here.
The Pearl native has served as chairman of the House Administration Committee, where he has led conversations in recent weeks about reforming how sexual harassment is handled in the lower chamber. He has also had to address reports that the House has secretly used taxpayer dollars for harassment settlements.
The third congressional district, which stretches from extreme southwest Mississippi to the Golden Triangle region, is expected to draw high profile candidates.
Before being elected to Congress in 2008, Harper, an attorney, served as a prosecutor in Brandon and Richland. He was also chairman of the Rankin County Republican Party from 2000-2007.
Harper, 61, never faced a strong challenge from a Republican or a Democrat for the House seat. The closest any challenger came to defeating the congressman was 25 points in 2008, the first time Harper ran. His name has also been mentioned as a potential replacement should Sen. Thad Cochran retire.
In 2012, his only general election opponent was Reform party candidate John Luke Pannell, who garnered just 20 percent of the final vote.