North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) said Monday that he will not run for the Senate in 2014, leaving state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) as the leading Republican challenging Sen. Kay Hagan (D).

"I understand that winning this seat has tremendous implications not only for control of the U.S. Senate in the final two years of the Obama presidency, but also for the direction of our nation," Berger said in a statement. "However, after careful consideration and consultation with family, friends and supporters, I have decided now is not the time for me to undertake such a campaign."

Berger's deicison leaves Tillis -- whose campaign got off to a rocky start earlier this year -- in the driver's seat in the GOP race. But two other candidates — Baptist State Convention president Mark Harris and physician Greg Brannon — are also getting some attention.

The Fix rates North Carolina as the eighth most likely Senate seat to flip in 2014.