(CNN) – Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Florida, will retire at the end of this congressional session due to health reasons, according to a statement released Friday by her office.
"As I have prepared for my campaign, I have been troubled by persistent health problems and have come to the disappointing and sad conclusion that I cannot run for reelection," said Brown-Waite, who represents Florida's 5th Congressional District. "There are simply too many unresolved issues around my health and my pancreas in particular. As of this morning, my doctors are still undecided about what course to pursue next for my treatments."
Brown-Waite's statement included an endorsement for Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent, a Republican, who the Tampa Tribune reports filed Friday with the state supervisor of elections office in Tallahassee to run in Brown-Waite's district.
"I encouraged Sheriff Nugent to run because I know him to be a strong conservative who will continue my fight for veterans and seniors," Brown-Waite said. "This past week Rich told me he would stand in my place for election to Congress."
Nugent spent six years in the Illinois Air National Guard and worked as a police officer in Chicago for 12 years before moving to Florida.
"We will run a vigorous campaign based on the conservative values shared by so many of our neighbors in Hernando County and throughout the 5th District," Nugent said in the statement. "There is no one in this country who has been more committed to serving our seniors and veterans than Ginny Brown-Waite."
Brown-Waite was the target of a threatening phone call in March. Federal authorities announced on April 19 that a 66-year-old man had been charged with making the call.
Brown-Waite won re-election in 2008 with 61 percent of the vote. Sen. John McCain won the district by 13 points. Tom Doolan and Jim Piccillo are vying for the Democratic nomination.
Updated at 2:20 p.m.: Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, released a statement on Brown-Waite's announcement.
“For seven years, Ginny Brown-Waite has served central Florida with the independence and tenacity that has defined her career in public service," Sessions, R-Texas, said. "Whether it was working to increase healthcare access for veterans or lowering the tax burden on middle-class families, Ginny’s constituents could always count on her to stand up for their best interests.”
“If you know anything about Ginny Brown-Waite, it is that she is a fighter, and my prayers are with her," Sessions added. "...I wish Ginny and her family all the best.”