Update 3:53 p.m., 12/17/2013
Washington (CNN) – Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf announced Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in 2014, setting up a competitive race to replace him in the suburbs and exurbs outside Washington, D.C.
Wolf, first elected in 1980 and the dean of the Virginia delegation, said in a written statement that he was grateful to his constituents for his 34 years of service in Congress, but he's decided to focus on other efforts.
"As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family," Wolf said.
The 10th congressional district in northern Virginia was already considered a swing area in what has become a battleground state. In the 2012 election GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney narrowly won the district, but four years earlier then Sen. Barack Obama prevailed there.
Wolf already had two Democratic challengers, but last week he got a more high profile one when Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust also announced he was filing petitions to run for the seat.
Some of the Republicans who could now decide to run with Wolf's retirement, according to a GOP source, include Virginia State Delegate Barbara Comstock, a former Bush Administration official, as well as two other state elected officials – Delegate Tim Hugo and state Senator Jill Vogel.
Rep Greg Walden, chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, released a statement praising Wolf's service on the powerful Appropriations Committee, saying, "Frank has always been willing to ask the tough questions and do whatever it takes to protect the security of the American people."
But Walden's statement did not make any mention of the party's chances of keeping the seat in the Republican column in 2014.
The rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees Wolf's retirement as a pick up opportunity.
"House Republicans have inflicted untold damage on northern Virginia families, with their reckless government shutdown and refusal to focus on the right priorities like creating jobs. With more irresponsible brinksmanship on the horizon, it's no wonder that Frank Wolf is choosing to leave Congress rather than defend his party's record of failing on jobs, failing to work together, and failing to protect seniors," said DCCC executive director Kelly Ward, in a statement.
Democrats need to win back a challenging 17 House seats from the Republicans next November to grab control of the chamber.