The 81-year-old Price has represented the 4th District seat in the Raleigh-Durham area for all but one term since first joining Congress in 1987.
Price made the announcement as state lawmakers are starting to redraw North Carolina's U.S. House district boundaries based on 2020 census figures.
Even with Republican control of the General Assembly, most any reconfigured district drawn in the heavily Democratic region of the state would have made Price a heavy favorite to win next year. He's won re-election with at least two-thirds of the vote during every general election since 2012.
“So while it is time for me to retire, it is no time to flag in our efforts to secure a ‘more perfect union’ and to protect and expand our democracy," Price said in a news release. “I am deeply grateful to the people of the Fourth District for making my service possible and for what we have been able to achieve together.”
Price, a Duke University political science professor, said he'll serve out the rest of his term — his 17th on Capitol Hill. His retirement likely will mean an intense scramble for Democrats who seek to succeed him. The primary is set for March 8.
As North Carolina's only member on the House Appropriations Committee, Price wields great influence on spending matters for his home state in Congress. He's currently chairman of the panel's transportation, housing and urban development subcommittee.
During his House tenure, Price has promoted environmental, education and lending causes, as well as emphasized homeland security matters. Price also employed his reputation as a Democratic political theorist to press for institutional reforms.
In the wake of lobbying scandals, Price and three other Democratic House members proposed rules changes that would make it more difficult for lawmakers to sneak provisions into legislation on behalf of special interests. The measure would stop lobbyists from arranging and secretly financing travel for lawmakers.
He was a longtime proponent of a “Stand By Your Ad” provision that required candidates for federal office to appear in their paid ads, identify themselves and tell voters that they approved the message.
Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina said that while he almost never agreed on policy with Price, the Democrat served with “integrity and distinction.”
“It has been a pleasure to serve alongside Congressman Price and work closely with him on a bipartisan basis on issues ranging from disaster recovery funding to economic development and infrastructure improvements,” Republican Sen. Thom Tillis said in a news release.
A Tennessee native who now lives in Chapel Hill, Price previously worked for the state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee before he defeated GOP Rep. Bill Cobey in 1986. He lost the seat in the Republican sweep of 1994 to former Raleigh Police Chief Fred Heineman, but regained it in 1996 and has held it ever since.
The current 4th District includes the high-tech Research Triangle Park straddling Durham and Wake counties and Orange County, home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That's where Price got his bachelor's degree 60 years ago. He later went to Yale.
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