WASHINGTON (AFP) - Texas Governor Rick Perry announced on Monday he will not seek re-election next year, while leaving open the prospect of launching a second run for the US presidency.
Saying he will "pray and reflect" before deciding on his future, the 63-year-old Republican, the longest serving governor in Texas history, will leave office in January 2015 at the end of his third term.
"The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership," Mr Perry told supporters at an event in San Antonio, adding that he will continue "working hard to do what's best for Texas."
"I will actively lead this great state. I'll also pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path." Mr Perry was first elected governor in 2000, succeeding George W. Bush who won the White House.
In 2011 Mr Perry threw his hat in the presidential race, but the tough-talking governor, a favourite among many hard-core conservatives, displayed a weak grasp of policy and made a series of gaffes.
He has since openly flirted with a another presidential run in 2016, and while he has stopped short of announcing a bid, Mr Perry told Fox News on Sunday that it was "certainly" an option.