Image: Ray LaHood
Seth Perlman  /  AP file
Representative Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said on Friday the prospect of leading an ordinary life after 30 years in politics “is pretty appealing.”
updated 7/27/2007 3:02:40 PM ET 2007-07-27T19:02:40

Republican Rep. Ray LaHood, who earned a reputation for civility in more than a decade in Congress, said Friday he plans to retire after his seventh term ends in January 2009.

The prospect of leading an ordinary life after 30 years in politics “is pretty appealing,” said LaHood, 61.

“I’ve never thought of myself as a career politician,” he said. “I do think there comes a time to move on and do something else and this is the right time for it.”

LaHood, a former teacher, said he announced his retirement early to give prospective candidates time to launch their campaigns. The 18th Congressional District seat from Illinois has been held for nearly a half-century by just two men — LaHood and former House Minority Leader Bob Michel. LaHood was Michel’s chief of staff before Michel retired and LaHood was elected in 1994.

This time, there is no heir apparent, he said.

In Washington, LaHood has helped organize conferences for lawmakers intended to restore civility between Republicans and Democrats. He is also a ranking member of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel and serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

He briefly considered a challenge to Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2005 but decided against it after supporters urged him to stay in Washington. On Friday, he said he was ready for something new, though he hadn’t yet decided what.

“I feel like I’m going out on top, both politically and as a public servant,” he said.

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