- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

BOONE, N.C. (AP) - Another North Carolina lawmaker is attributing a decision against seeking re-election to the strains of being in Raleigh and away from home.

Sen. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga, announced Thursday he will not run next year but will serve the rest of his third term through 2016. Soucek had filed his candidacy notice earlier this month, but he withdrew Tuesday, according to Matt Snyder, director of the Watauga County Board of Elections.

A news release from Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, quoted Soucek as saying he realized he was gone from home more than 180 nights in 2015. The legislative session began in January and ended Sept. 30.

“It has been a great and humbling honor to be trusted by the citizens of northwestern North Carolina to represent them in the state Senate, but I can’t continue to faithfully serve both my family and constituents,” Soucek said.

Soucek joined the Senate in 2011, when Republicans earned a majority in the chamber for the first time since 1870. As co-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, he’s been involved in efforts to lift the 100-school cap on charter schools and other legislation designed to raise high school graduation rates and pay for effective teachers.

“Dan’s retirement is a big loss for the Senate and the people of his district, but his family deserves to have him back full-time,” Berger said.

Soucek, a West Point graduate, is a member of the North Carolina National Guard and previously worked at Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian relief agency in Boone led by the Rev. Franklin Graham. Soucek said he was proud of legislation he shepherded honoring Graham’s father, the Rev. Billy Graham.

Other lawmakers have announced their decisions not to seek re-election next year while citing the responsibilities of family or work back in their districts, including Reps. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg; and Paul Tine, an unaffiliated lawmaker from Dare County.

The campaign filing period ends Monday at noon. Two Republican candidates have filed to try to succeed Soucek.

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