Rep. Deborah Pryce, once the most powerful Republican woman in Congress but nearly a casualty of the 2006 Democratic surge, said Thursday she would not seek a ninth term.

The announcement set off a scramble by both parties to replace Pryce in one of the most competitive districts in the country.

"I've been honored and humbled to serve as the representative of Ohio's 15th District for almost 15 years," Pryce said in a news release. "It has truly been a labor of love."

Pryce said she has two elderly parents and a daughter who starts kindergarten next week.

"There's never a good time to leave a job you love, but for me the right time is now," she said.

Republicans could have trouble finding a top-flight candidate for an open seat in the competitive district. Two names mentioned have been former Attorney General Jim Petro and state Sen. Steve Stivers.

Democrats are backing Mary Jo Kilroy, a Franklin County commissioner who lost to Pryce in 2006 by 1,062 votes out of 220,000 cast. A re-count delayed the outcome for weeks. Fellow Commissioner Paula Brooks decided not to challenge Kilroy for the House seat earlier this year.

The race already had attracted the attention of outside groups and phone calls targeting Pryce, mainly for her support of President Bush and the Iraq War, hardly took a breather after last November's election.