Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) definitively took himself out of the running for the seat being vacated next year by Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), reiterating his hope that former governor Timothy M. Kaine would be the Democratic nominee for the seat.

Since Webb announced his decision not to seek reelection, most Democrats have focused their hopes on Kaine — the current Democratic National Committee chairman — who is now expected to announce his intentions as soon as next week. But several other names have also surfaced in the media, including those of ex-representatives Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher, as well as Connolly, who is now in his second term representing the 11th district in Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs.

Though he was never expected by most observers to make the race, Connolly made clear in a news release Friday that he would not run to succeed Webb.

“I am flattered that some would consider me a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate, but there is much work to be done in the House and I love what I do, serving the citizens of the 11th District of Virginia,” Connolly said.

As for Kaine, Connolly reiterated that he believes “Tim is a public servant in the truest sense of the word. He would make a great U.S. Senator and I hope he decides to run.”

While he won’t be running for this seat, Connolly is widely believed to have designs on statewide office someday, though his name has more often been associated with a future governor’s race rather than a Senate contest.