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Castle Will Not Seek Education Ranking Post

Updated: 1:02 p.m.

Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) will not seek the top GOP position on the House Education and Labor Committee, saying he’s undecided about his political future and wants to give the GOP stability on the panel.

“While I am honored to be mentioned as a candidate for the Ranking Republican post on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, I have decided not to pursue the position,— Castle said in a statement Thursday.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had both indicated that they would support Castle if he decided to pursue the position and pledged to run for another term in the House. The education panel’s ranking member job is being vacated by Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), who is taking the top GOP job on Armed Services.

Castle, seen as a possible Senate hopeful in 2010, said he could not make such a promise.

“In my discussions with members of the Steering Committee, there were obvious concerns among the members and those in leadership as to whether or not I would continue to run for my current House seat,— Castle’s statement said. “Since I am not ready to announce a final decision on whether to run for the House, the Senate, or anything, and knowing House Republican leaders value continuity in this position, it would be unfair to pursue the Ranking Member post at this point in time.—

Castle told Roll Call on Wednesday that before the position was offered by leadership, he had nearly ruled out another run for the House and was weighing whether to launch a bid for the Senate or retire.

Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and John Kline (R-Minn.) have both told the Republican Steering Committee that they will run for the ranking member position. Also mentioned for the job had been Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), the highest-ranking Republican on the panel, but he also said Thursday that he isn’t interested.

“I am working on many education issues including student loan reform, and I believe I can be more effective if I maintain my independence,— Petri said in a statement.

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