WASHINGTON (CNN) – Moderate Republican Tom Davis, R-Va, announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of his current Congressional term. Davis is the 28th House Republican to retire or seek higher office this cycle.
"After much soul-searching and discussion with those closest to me, I have decided the time is right to take a sabbatical from public life," Davis said in a written statement. "I will serve out the remainder of my term, and plan to remain an active contributor to Republican causes, but will not run for office in 2008."
Davis is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, which is conducting several high profile investigations, including a probe on steroids in baseball. He also served as Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1998 and 2000.
Last year Davis seriously considered running for the seat of retiring Senator John Warner, R-Va. But when the state's Republican party moved to choose its nominee through a state convention rather than a primary, Davis decided not to run. Davis' wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, who is a Virginia state senator, lost her re-election race in November.
Davis did not say what he intends to do, but plans for his post-Congressional career, but said, "it's clear to me that returning to the private sector and reacquainting myself with that view of the world is the best move for me and my family."
Virginia has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, but Democrats have made inroads as the state tilts more to the left, especially in the heavily populated northern part of the state.
Doug Thornell, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Davis' decision "yet another blow to National Republicans" and said the seat becomes a "top pick-up opportunity for Democrats." In the last three statewide contests Democratic candidates have carried Davis' northern Virginia district.
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Ken Spain, conceded Davis seat would be challenging for Republicans. "We have immediately begun reaching out to prospective candidates and Republican activists in the district," Spain said. "The race will no doubt be competitive but we are confident that we retain the seat."
Two Democratic candidates, former Rep Leslie Byrne, who lost to Davis in 1992, and Gerry Connolly, have already announced plans to run.
– CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh