Eight-term Republican Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona will retire at the end of this term, Fox News learned Thursday.
Shadegg at first decided to retire from the House after his seventh term but senior House Republicans coaxed him to stay in the House and seek another term in Congress. Some had speculated Shadegg would run for the Senate in 2010 if Arizona Sen. John McCain were elected president.
In a statement, Shadegg said that he wants to "pursue my commitment to fight for freedom in a different venue," and spoke specifically to his work on health care reforms.
"In the last year, I have been able to fight the massive government takeover of our nation's health care system advanced by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. I will continue to do so with every ounce of energy I can summon," he said.
First elected to the House in the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994, the 60-year-old Shadegg scored headlines in early 2006 when he entered the race to succeed former Rep. Tom DeLay as House majority leader.
DeLay decided to resign from Congress after a Texas grand jury indicted him on a felony count of conspiracy. Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and current House Minority Leader John Boehner aimed to succeed DeLay.
Shadegg wasn't given much of a chance of beating the favored Blunt. But it's widely believed that Shadegg's leadership challenge blocked Blunt from becoming party leader. Shadegg dropped out after the first ballot and many of his backer threw their support to Boehner who defeated Blunt in a stunning upset in the second round.
Neither Boehner nor Shadegg has ever acknowledged rumors whether the two forged a pact to help defeat Blunt and elect Boehner as GOP leader.
Republicans lost control of the House in the fall of 2006. And Shadegg again challenged Blunt for his leadership post, but lost.
National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas issued a statement calling Shadegg "a strong conservative voice and a dedicated leader for our Republican conference."
"Congressman Shadegg is a close personal friend who has worked tirelessly to promote important Republican principles and his efforts will certainly be missed," Sessions said.
In 2008, Shadegg defeated Democratic hopeful Bob Lord with 54 percent of the vote. It was the lowest vote percentage that Shadegg ever commanded in a House race. The congressman noted in his written statement that 2008 was the most difficult year he's seen for Republicans but his win then should be a beacon for conservative voters in his district.
"As the Obama administration and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi grow further and further out of touch with average Americans, evidence continues to build that 2010 will be a record year for Republicans running for Congress. And, I am extremely confident that the people of the Third District of Arizona will elect a solid conservative," Shadegg said.
Shadegg earned his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Arizona. He succeeded Sen. Minority Whip Jon Kyl, who held Shadegg's seat before being elected to the Senate.
Shadegg's father Steve ran the Senate campaigns of legendary Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1952 and 1958.
Shadegg is the 13th House Republican to retire or seek another office later this year. Ten House Democrats have retired, excluding former Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida who quit earlier this month and Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii who plans to resign later this winter.