Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who has served more than four decades in the House, will retire at the end of his current term, he said in an interview published Wednesday.
Young, 82, told the Tampa Bay Times that he plans to retire. Asked why, he responded, "I don't know that I would pick out one thing. It's a lot of things. My family, my job, my rehabilitation from my back."
The paper asked him whether congressional gridlock was a factor in his decision. "I'm a little disappointed. It seems there's too much politics. It's a different Congress," Young responded.
Young's decision opens the door for Democrats to compete for the seat he vacating. He represents the 13th District, which lies just west of Tampa. It's a swing district where President Obama won about 50 percent of the vote in 2012.
First elected in 1970, Young is the longest-serving Republican member of the House. A lawmaker who wasn't shy about earmarks, he chaired the Appropriations Committee from 1999-2005.
In a statement, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called Young "a tireless voice for our men and women in uniform and America's national security, and a dear friend."
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) said in a separate statement that "Many of us have looked up to Bill as a mentor, friend and role model, and as a result, he is widely respected and admired among his colleagues. As he and his family enter the next chapter of their lives, I wish them nothing but the best and thank him for his service."
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Steve Israel (N.Y.) released a statement saying, "In 2014, the voters in Florida’s 13th district will have the chance to elect a problem-solving Democrat in this competitive district that twice elected President Obama."
Updated at 3:53 p.m.