FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Republican U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis said Thursday he won't seek re-election so that he can spend more time with his family.
"I thank the people of Kentucky's Fourth District for this honor and look forward to continued service to our community and to our republic in other capacities as I return to the private sector," he said in a statement.
The 53-year-old fiscal and social conservative has served a district that stretches along the upper tier of Kentucky from the Louisville suburbs to the West Virginia border since 2005.
The move surprised constituents, including former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, whom Davis replaced in Congress.
"I was kind of shocked," Lucas said. "I figured Geoff would be there for life or longer."
Democrats will likely see the situation as an opportunity to retake the seat. Lucas declined to say whether he would run.
"I just heard about this a few minutes ago," he said.
Davis hasn't been a big newsmaker in Kentucky in his six years in office, though he drew headlines in 2008 when he referred to then- presidential candidate Barack Obama as "that boy." In remarks to his Republican base about national security, Davis said of Obama, "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."
Davis later apologized publicly and asked for Obama's forgiveness, saying "My poor choice of words is regrettable."
The GOP is firmly in control of Kentucky's congressional delegation, holding both U.S. Senate seats and four of the state's six House seats.
Responding to Davis' announcement, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said Kentucky is losing an "influential" and "exemplary" representative.
"Thanks to his accomplished service in the U.S. Army, Geoff has been a key leader on national security issues," Sessions said. "His experience as a small business owner and job creator has empowered his ability to champion regulatory reform and tax relief on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. As an NRCC Regional Chair for the 2010 and 2012 cycles, Geoff played an important role in helping us win back the Republican Majority to retire Nancy Pelosi as speaker."
In a written statement, Davis boasted of "an exceptionally competent staff."
"Together we have passed critical pieces of legislation and enacted laws to reform our government, strengthen our national security, protect our veterans and service members, create economic revival and energy independence, and improve transparency and accountability of the government," he said.
Davis spoke about his "wonderful wife Pat and our children for their unfailing love, grace under pressure, and tireless encouragement in answering this call to serve."He ended by expressing appreciation for the opportunity to serve in Congress.
"I am grateful that I live in a country where a boy like me, growing up with little hope, could walk a path by God's grace that has allowed me to encounter His peace, the joy of true love, and service at the highest levels of our elected national government," he said.