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Rep. Shuler, a conservative Dem., to retire

WASHINGTON (BP) — U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, a Southern Baptist and conservative Democrat who went against his party on a number of social issues, says he is retiring.

First elected during the Democratic wave of 2006, Shuler was re-elected twice and survived in 2010 when Republicans took control of Congress. His election in ’06 helped Nancy Pelosi become the first female speaker, but his differences with her also led him to an unsuccessful challenge against her in 2010 for the post of minority leader, after the GOP won the House.

He represented the conservative 11th district of North Carolina.

“This was not an easy decision,” Shuler said in a Feb. 2 statement. “However, I am confident that it is the right decision. It is a decision I have weighed heavily over the past few months. I have always said family comes first, and I never intended to be a career politician. I am ready to refocus my priorities and spend more time at home with my wife Nikol and two young children.”

He added, “I am also proud of the work we have accomplished with the Blue Dog Coalition to put our country on a sound fiscal path and promote civility and common-sense solutions amid the divisive, highly-partisan political climate in Washington.”

Shuler voted with social conservatives on a host of issues. He voted against President Obama’s health care bill, against expanding funds for embryonic stem cell research and against adding hate crimes protections based on sexual orientation. He did, though, vote to lift the military’s prohibition on open homosexuality in the military.

Shuler is a member of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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