- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Republican Rep. John Kline, a seven-term lawmaker and chairman of the House Education panel, announced Thursday he won’t seek re-election next year in a Minnesota district that has grown more politically competitive in recent years.

Kline has represented southeastern Minnesota’s 2nd District since 2002. The former Marine carved out a niche in Congress on military issues and, more recently, on education issues as the head of the committee. He said he will use the next 16 months to fashion a replacement to the No Child Left Behind education law.

Kline would have lost that gavel after this term as part of a chairmanship term limit. With his 68th birthday arriving Sunday, he said, “it’s just kind of time” to move on.

“It’s time to let someone else have a shot at it,” Kline said, adding, “I’ve enjoyed the fight.”

He told reporters that it’s premature to speculate about a campaign for another office in Minnesota, such as governor or Senate in 2018.

President Barack Obama paid tribute in a statement Thursday evening, saying, “During his 25 years in the Marine Corps, and more than a decade in Congress, John Kline has served his country and his constituents with honor and distinction.”

Obama praised Kline for his “willingness to work together with anybody - Republican or Democrat - who has the best interests of our students at heart.”

Getting to Washington wasn’t easy for Kline, who lost two bids before winning a third time against Democratic incumbent Bill Luther. While there, he has expressed frustration with the ability of a small group within his own party to slow down the legislative process.

Kline has consistently run up large vote margins in a district that Obama narrowly won in his 2012 re-election campaign. Without an incumbent on the ticket, Kline said it’s “absolutely accurate to call it a swing district.”

There are more than a dozen GOP legislators from the area, and several instantly sprang into consideration mode.


Associated Press writer Kyle Potter contributed.

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