Republican Rep. Vern Ehlers of Michigan announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of his current term.
The 76-year-old Ehlers is the only nuclear physicist serving in Congress. He formerly chaired the House Administration Committee, taking the reins from former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, when he was beset by an ethics scandal.
In a written statement posted on his House Web site, Ehlers called his term in Congress "incredibly challenging and rewarding."
"While I regret leaving when so much more needs to be done, I know it is time for me to step down. I am in good health, but I recognize that I should complete this chapter of my life. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and my family in Grand Rapids," he said. "Many serious issues still need diligent attention from Congress, and I intend to participate vigorously in my work for the remainder of this year."
Ehlers formerly taught physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He later became the chairman of the Physics Department at Calvin College in Michigan.
Ehlers won a special election to Congress in 1993, succeeding the late Rep. Paul Henry, R-Mich., who died after a bout with brain cancer. Ehlers and Henry served on the faculty together at Calvin.
Ehlers becomes the 17th House Republican to announce they will not seek re-election in the fall. He's the second Michigan Republican to retire, joining Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., who is running for governor.
Only 11 House Democrats have thrown in the towel for another term. Earlier this week, Michigan state Representative Justin Amash, a Republican, had announced he would challenge Ehlers in the primary.