Rep. John Kline, close ally of Boehner, won't seek re-election

Story highlights

  • A close ally of House Speaker John Boehner announced he would not seek re-election
  • Democrats see an opening in John Kline's Minnesota district

Washington (CNN)House Education Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minnesota, announced he will retire after this term, potentially giving House Democrats a chance at picking up a seat in 2016.

"After much careful thought and deliberation, I have decided not to seek re-election next year," Kline said in a post on Facebook on Thursday.
    Kline, a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, was first elected in 2002. Due to term limits for Republican committee chairs, he is due to lose his post as head of the education panel in 2016.
    Before entering Congress, Kline served in the Marines and was assigned to fly Marine One, the president's helicopter. Kline cited his experience working as a young military aide to President Ronald Reagan in his announcement and said he still had a full agenda to tackle before stepping down.
    "Whether it's replacing No Child Left Behind, holding the Obama administration accountable for its harmful policies, or strengthening higher education, there is a lot of work to do over the next 16 months," Kline said.
    Boehner praised Kline on Thursday, saying, "as a member of the House, John focused on helping America's troops, veterans and students, and he has a strong record of accomplishments on their behalf. He's been a fantastic leader and a great friend, and I look forward to continuing to work with him during the remainder of his chairmanship."
    And President Barack Obama praised Kline in a statement Thursday evening.
    "During his 25 years in the Marine Corps, and more than a decade in Congress, John Kline has served his country and his constituents with honor and distinction," Obama said. "John's never been afraid to stand up for what he believes in, and as the Chairman of the House Education Committee, he's shown a willingness to work together with anybody -- Republican or Democrat -- who has the best interests of our students at heart."
      In 2014, comedian Bill Maher unsuccessfully targeted Kline in his "flip a district" contest. Obama narrowly carried the district in the 2012 election so Democrats see an opportunity to compete for the seat next year.
      "As Congress lurches from one legislative failure to the next, Minnesotans have grown tired of ineffective Republican leadership in Washington. We're confident we will win this seat back for the hardworking families in Minnesota who are ready for a change," Sacha Haworth, a spokesperson for the House Democrats' campaign arm, told CNN.