Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) will not run for reelection after three terms in office.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) is retiring. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

“This was not an easy decision,” Shuler said. “However, I am confident that it is the right decision. It is a decision I have weighed heavily over the past few months. I have always said family comes first, and I never intended to be a career politician.”

It’s been a brutal couple of weeks for North Carolina Democrats.

Like Rep. Brad Miller (D), who announced his retirement last Thursday, Shuler was dealt a bad hand by a Republican-drawn redistricting map.

Gov. Bev Perdue (D), underwater in polls, also announced last week that she plans to retire rather than face former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory.

Shuler considered running for governor but earlier this week decided against it. He said it was during that decision-making process that he decided to retire.

On Thursday we noted that Shuler, a former Redskins player and an outspoken member of the conservative Blue Dog caucus, got contributions in the fourth quarter of 2011 from just two North Carolinians.

“Heath Shuler’s retirement in this strong Republican seat is another turnover to end his second career in Washington,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay, “and it is also a cautionary sign of the troubles House Democrats face with Barack Obama on the ballot in November.”

Shulers is the 12th House Democrat to announce his retirement. Another eight are running for other office, leaving 20 open seats for Democrats to defend.

On the GOP side, seven lawmakers are retiring and seven are running for other office, for a total of 14 open seats.