Former U.S. representative Glenn Nye (D) has announced that he won’t run to get his old seat back in 2012, leaving Democrats with a wide-open field in their efforts to recapture the Hampton Roads-based 2nd district.

Nye held the seat for just one term before he was ousted in November by auto dealer Scott Rigell (R). Nye was one of a trio of congressional Democrats in Virginia who lost in 2010, and his 11-point margin of defeat was the widest of the three.

Since March, Nye, a former foreign service officer, has been working as a senior fellow at the Washington office of the German Marshall Fund. But he had not said whether he might run against Rigell again next year, until now.

“I wanted to let you know that, after careful consideration, I have decided not to run for Congress in 2012,” Nye said in a letter to supporters, which was first reported by the Virginian-Pilot.

Privately, some Democrats in Hampton Roads and Washington will be pleased by Nye’s decision, given his convincing loss last cycle and his inability to drive turnout among African-American voters in the district.

It’s not clear which Democratic candidate or candidates will seek the seat next year. Some party officials are hoping that wealthy businessman Paul Hirschbiel will run to unseat Rigell.

The 2nd district — which includes portions of Hampton and Norfolk, as well as Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore — may become somewhat more favorable to Republicans once the redistricting process is over by adding some Republicans from Rep. Rob Wittman’s (R) 1st district to the north.