Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that he would step down at the end of his current term, a move that will end his reign as the longest-serving chief executive in state history even as he left open the possibility of another run for president in 2016.
Quoting from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Perry said there was a time for everything in life and, for him, "the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership."
Perry's decision, which was not unexpected, ensures the biggest shakeup in Texas politics in well over a decade, though the fresh faces are likely to be Republican and not Democratic.
Despite an international burst of publicity surrounding the abortion-rights filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, Texas remains an overwhelmingly conservative state and Republicans have a strong gubernatorial candidate waiting just in the wings, Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott.
Perry's announcement, at a news conference attended by friends and political supporters at a Caterpillar dealership in San Antonio, forecloses what could have been a costly and bitter fight between Perry and Abbott, a friend and political ally.
The governor, who took office in 2000 when George W. Bush won the White House, said nothing to indicate whether he intended to make a second run for president, after his gaffe-filled attempt in 2012.
"Any future considerations I will announce in due time," he said.
The event had the aura of a national convention-style appearance. Perry was introduced by a glowing video testimonial to his years in office and was preceded onstage by his wife, Anita.
He spent close to 10 minutes providing his own shining account of his stewardship, boasting of tax cuts and other policies that have spurred job creation and helped Texas repeatedly rank as one of the best states in which to do business.
His voice slightly quavered as he announced his plans to step aside when his term ends in January 2015. Perry said he would "work and pray to determine my own path" forward.
Appearing a day earlier on "Fox News Sunday," Perry was coy about another presidential run, saying only that it was "an option out there."
Texas Democrats are scrambling to find a candidate to face Abbott and his longshot primary opponent, former state GOP Chairman Tom Pauken. Although Davis has been widely encouraged to run next year -- and expresses interest in seeking statewide office -- strategists say she is mindful of the steep climb she would face running for governor in 2014.