Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, said Monday he won't seek re-election in 2014.
The staunch Christian and fiscal conservative said he will instead spend the remaining 18 months of his term guiding Texas through innovation and job creation. However, Perry did not rule out a second Republican presidential run.
“The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry told a crowd in San Antonio that included family, supporters and past and present staffers. “I’ll also pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path.”
His departure creates an opening for longtime Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott in next year's Republican primary.
The 63-year-old Perry ran for president in 2011, entering late and dropping out after finishing fifth in Iowa and sixth in New Hampshire with just one percent of the vote.
The campaign was perhaps best known for Perry uttering "Oops" during a debate after forgetting the third of three federal agencies he wanted to eliminate, if elected.
Perry has been candid about taking a path that leads to the White House, regularly quipping that most Republicans have to run twice before winning the party nomination.
He has acknowledged that having back surgery slowed him in his first campaign and has said that next time he would enter the race earlier. And he already has plans for a public service organization and political action committees that could easily double as the first step toward a 2016 campaign.
Texas’ two Republican senators praised Perry’s efforts in Texas.
“Gov. Perry led the great state of Texas during a period that will forever be etched in history for unprecedented job creation and economic growth,” said junior Sen. Ted Cruz. “We should all be grateful.”
Senior Sen. John Cornyn said: “Under Gov. Perry’s leadership, Texas has been a shining example that less government, lower taxes and fewer regulations helps to grow jobs and move our economy forward.”
Perry, who assumed the governorship in 2000, has stirred controversy over the years by suggesting Texas could secede from the United States and for shooting a coyote with a concealed handgun while jogging.
Still, he's considered the most powerful Texas governor since the Civil War because he served long enough to fill every state agency with his loyalists.
Fox News' Carl Cameron and the Associated Press contributed to this report.