[Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET with Ross statement and reaction]
(CNN) -– Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2012.
Ross said in a statement that he wants to spend more time with his family and explore a bid for governor in 2014.
Read Ross' statement after the jump:
“As I reflect on turning 50 this year, I believe it is time for me to begin a new chapter in my life by spending more time with my family and exploring new opportunities here at home in Arkansas,” Ross said.
Ross, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate House Democrats, is one of two Democrats currently representing his state in Congress. He was not facing an opponent for re-election.
The Blue Dog Coalition has been more than halved since before the November 2010 midterm elections, when 54 members belonged to the caucus. Now, only 25 members hold the distinction.
The National Republican Congressional Committee offered a swift response to Ross’ announcement.
“Mike Ross is saving himself the task of defending the indefensible policies of his party in what would have been the toughest race of his career,” Paul Lindsey, the group’s communications director said in a statement. “He may be the last Democrat in Arkansas, but he won’t be the last Blue Dog to throw in the towel.”
Ross is currently serving his sixth term in Congress, having won re-election in 2010 by 18 percentage points.
–CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh, CNN's Jeff Simon and CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report
Representing my home state of Arkansas in the U.S. Congress for the past eleven years has been a real privilege and honor. It is a job that I take very seriously and one that I love. However, as I reflect on turning 50 this year, I believe it is time for me to begin a new chapter in my life by spending more time with my family and exploring new opportunities here at home in Arkansas.
That’s why I have decided not to seek a seventh term to the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional District. This was not an easy decision and one that I carefully made after a lot of reflection, thought and prayer.
Last year was a tough political environment to seek re-election. Yet, I won by 18 points—one of the largest margins of any member of Congress in a swing district. The trust and confidence the folks here at home have continually placed in me is something I will never forget. The people of Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional District are good, decent, hard working people and I am proud to serve and represent them in the U.S. Congress.
A lot has changed since I was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2000. Congressional campaigns have gone from several months in length to never-ending, costing millions of dollars every two years. As a result, fundraising never ends nor do the political attacks. While I have worked hard to bring folks to the middle to craft commonsense solutions to the many problems that confront our nation, Washington is mired in gridlock, gamesmanship and constant partisan bickering. Too many issues and votes are based on partisan politics rather than good public policy. Despite our many challenges, I remain optimistic that America’s best days are still ahead of us.
I never believed that my service in the U.S. Congress should become a permanent career. This seat never belonged to me—it belongs to the people of Arkansas. And I know there are many bright people in Arkansas ready to step up, go to Washington and offer a new generation of leadership. Simply put, it is someone else’s turn to represent our state in the U.S. Congress.
I have many good memories of my service in the U.S. Congress, and we have helped thousands of people. None of this would have been possible without the support of the people here in Arkansas, and for that, my family and I will always be grateful to them.
I look forward to serving out the remainder of my term in the U.S. Congress, which doesn’t end until January 2013. I will continue to work each and every day on behalf of the people I represent, just as I have faithfully tried to do from the beginning.
I have received a lot of encouragement to run for Governor of Arkansas when Governor Beebe's term ends in 2014. I've always been very upfront and honest in the fact that, as a fifth generation Arkansan, I love our state and would like very much to help lead it at some point in the future. Whether I run for Governor in 2014 is a decision I have not yet made and won't make until sometime after my term in this Congress ends.
But I do know if I was re-elected to the U.S. Congress next year, my term in the Congress would overlap with the Governor's race. I believe it would be impossible to successfully run for Governor here at home, while effectively carrying out my congressional duties in Washington. That wouldn't be fair to the people who elected me to Congress and it wouldn't be fair to my supporters in a race for Governor. That certainly factored into my decision not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress.
I don’t know what my future holds, but I am hopeful it involves us continuing to work together to build an even brighter future for our state and its people.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement regarding Ross' announcement:
“Congressman Mike Ross has served the families, workers, and business owners of Arkansas’ 4th Congressional district with distinction and dedication for more than a decade. A fifth-generation Arkansan, his time in the House has been defined by his commitment to his neighbors and constituents; a co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, he has always focused on fiscal responsibility.
“From his time as a small business owner to his service in the Arkansas State Senate to his terms in the House of Representatives, Congressman Ross has been a proud public servant, and a strong advocate for the people he represents.
“We wish him and his family well in the future."