CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — State Rep. Ruth Samuelson announced late Tuesday she won't seek re-election next year, widening the leadership and fundraising vacuum within the House Republican leadership after 2014.
Samuelson, the House Republican Conference Leader from Charlotte, told GOP colleagues in an email of her decision not to seek a fifth two-year term. She will serve out her term through the end of next year.
Samuelson has taken lead roles in passing legislation in 2011 and 2013 designed to regulate further abortion in North Carolina, as well as pushing a voter ID bill through the House this year. She also has been known by environmental groups as a conservation ally.
Samuelson, 53, had been was widely considered one of the leading candidates to succeed Rep. Thom Tillis, as House speaker. Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, is running for U.S. Senate in 2014 and also leaving the General Assembly.
Samuelson told House Republicans there have been "several private-sector opportunities" develop since the session adjourned in July "that tap into some lifelong passions of mine."
"We realized that my current trajectory in the House ruled out a lot of other things that are more important to us," she told The Charlotte Observer (http://bit.ly/16euIq1), which first reported her departure. She said continuing her political career would take too much time from other passions, "philanthropy, faith and family."
Samuelson is a strong fundraiser for the House GOP, which has seen its chamber membership soar over the past two election cycles to a veto-proof 77 of the 120 seats.
In the email, Samuelson said she planned to raise or donate $250,000 to the House Republican Caucus "prior to my passing that torch along."
"I'm very proud of the work we've done together and am confident you will continue leading North Carolina into a better position for prosperity," she wrote to GOP colleagues.
In a statement, Tillis said Samuelson's "service to North Carolina is matched only by her devotion to her family and her faith. I look forward to working with her over the next year, and I am confident she will continue to touch the lives of everyone around her as she moves beyond public life."
Samuelson, a former Mecklenburg County commissioner, also has been praised as someone who works toward compromise. She most recently spearheaded a deal to locate revenues for renovations for the Carolina Panthers stadium without raising taxes.
"We've definitely disagreed over many policy issues, but I certainly have respected her in her political work," Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, told the Observer.
Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com
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