One of the nation’s highest-ranking black Republicans has decided against a re-election bid for his current position as lieutenant governor in order to campaign for Colorado’s newly drawn congressional seat.

Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers has chosen to run for Colorado’s new 7th district seat, a result of the burst in the state’s population over the decade.  He said his decision has nothing to do with is high-profile clashes with Gov. Bill Owens, who has yet to choose a runningmate for his own re-election bid for a second term this fall.

“Bill and I talked early on about a new congressional seat for Colorado,” Rogers said Thursday. “We’re both confident I’ll be a candidate for U.S. Congress.”

But the regional director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People expressed concern that Rogers’ departure would leave a void for Colorado's black community, as he is now the country’s highest ranking black in state-elected politics.

“That’s something the party would have to respond to,” said Rev. Gill Ford.

The boundaries for the new seat have yet to be drawn. Rogers, 37, ran unsuccessfully for congress in 1996 but was credited with helping Owens squeak to victory in 1998 to become the first GOP governor in the state.

Owens, 51, would not comment on Rogers’ statement Thursday, but said earlier he told reporters that it was time for the lieutenant governor to be his own boss.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.