A shocking announcement from one of the four members of Iowa’s congressional delegation. Republican Congressman Tom Latham sent an email to supporters late this afternoon, saying he will not be running for re-election in 2014.

Latham was first elected to congress in 1994 and is one of House Speaker John Boehner’s closest friends and advisors. Earlier this year Latham ruled out running for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and announced he’d seek reelection to the House instead, but now Latham says “this is the time” to step away from public office and spend more time with his family.

Latham recently has been criticized by some of his fellow Republicans for his vote in favor of the deal that ended the government shutdown in October and his vote this month for the bipartisan budget agreement.  Latham wrote in his statement that he would continue to seek “common sense solutions that transcend politics and provide results.”

A Republican from Des Moines announced a few weeks ago he would challenge Latham in a primary.  Joe Grandanette, a physical education teacher in Des Moines, criticized Latham and other House Republicans “who again caved on our debt problem” for last week’s vote on the budget deal.

“These are the kind of votes Congressman Latham has in his record that will enable me to earn a victory against him in the primary,” Grandanette said last week in a prepared statement. “To vote in support of this bill, at this time, with this amount of debt is irresponsible and morally reprehensible.”

GOP sources indicate other Republicans are considering running in the southwest Iowa district, which includes the cities of Des Moines and Council Bluffs. Staci Appel, a former state senator, and Gabriel de la Cerda, a former tire factory worker who is now a community college student, are competing in the Democratic Primary in the congressional district.

Read Latham’s announcement below:

Dear Friend:

On behalf of myself and my family I hope that this Christmas Season continues to be full of peace and joy for you and your loved ones.

The greatest honor of my lifetime has been the opportunity to serve my Iowa neighbors in the United States House of Representatives.  And, as I travel around the state I take great pride and joy in the many accomplishments that you and I have worked to achieve on behalf of our great state.

As I noted earlier this year, my service to Iowa has never been motivated by titles, accolades or a drive to secure a place for my name in history or on a building.  I have always been motivated by a responsibility and commitment to the people of Iowa, who elected me to faithfully work for an America that provides greater freedom and more opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

But responsible leaders – regardless of what level they serve – must always take time to reflect on when it is time to step away from the task that they love.  This is a discussion that I have every year with my family.  They are my life.

My professional life has taken me away from home often.  In fact, in my 39 years of marriage to Kathy I have spent half of it on the road building a family business and the other half serving in the United States Congress.

It is never a perfect time or a right time to step aside.  But for me, this is the time.

I want to share with you my decision that I will not be a candidate for any office in November of 2014.

What makes this decision most difficult is the continued and faithful friendship and support I have received from you and so many friends.  Because of you, I have never been in a stronger position to win reelection to Congress.  I will never find the words that can adequately reflect how truly blessed I feel.  For a farm kid from a small town in Franklin County this has truly been an amazing and honored experience.

I still have one year left on my term and we have a great amount of work to do on behalf of this nation and her people.

I will continue to work over the next year with every ounce of energy to advance common sense solutions that transcend politics and provide results that end wasteful spending, gets our debt under control and delivers a more efficient, effective and accountable government.

Again, thank you for your continued friendship, support and guidance.  May God continue to bless you, bless our great state and bless the United States of America.

Best –