U.S. Third District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
U.S. Third District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

U.S. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland has announced he will not seek reelection this year and will step down as a member of the House of Representatives when his term ends in early January.

Westmoreland, whose Third District includes a large portion of Fayette County, was elected to Congress in 2004, following twelve years of service as the 104th District representative in the Georgia General Assembly. He and his wife Joan called Fayette County home for more than 25 years before moving to Coweta County, which is where they currently reside.

“After a busy fall in Congress, I finally had the opportunity for quiet reflection over the Christmas break,” Westmoreland said in a press release. “I spent time in prayer and with my family, and with their blessing have decided I will no longer seek reelection for Georgia’s Third Congressional District.”

Westmoreland said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that he has been married to his wife Joan for nearly 47 years, “and for 27 of those I have been in office or running for office.” He says Joan is happy about his decision to pass the political baton to whomever the voters elect this fall to replace him.

On that note, Westmoreland says he doesn’t have a specific successor in mind, but he says he looks forward to helping the right Republican candidate make the transition.

“I think it’s important for Republicans to keep their benches new,” Westmoreland said. “You’ve got to keep some returning veterans, too, but the future of the party and the team is allowing more people to get involved.”

Westmoreland said vacating his seat creates a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for a conservative candidate to run for an open, mostly Republican district.

When asked if Westmoreland will run for governor in 2018, he admitted the opportunity had crossed his mind, but he said he wants to focus this year on finishing his last congressional term well. Instead of campaigning for reelection this summer, he says he wants to enjoy more family time and give more consideration to how he will continue to serve the public.

“I love Georgia,” Westmoreland said. “I love this state. If I could end up serving them again, I’d like to do that.”