WASHINGTON - In a potential shake-up to national politics, House Majority Leader Dick Armey is telling congressional colleagues that he doubts he will run for re-election next year, one of the Texas Republican's closest confidants said yesterday.
"Armey is considering not filing for re-election for next year's election and serving out his term in Congress in the next session as majority leader," he said.
Armey spokesman Gayland Barksdale declined to comment.
No announcement of Armey's decision has been scheduled. But he has told family and close aides of his plan and has begun discussing it with "a handful of House colleagues," the Armey confidant said. The filing deadlines for the 2002 elections is Jan. 2.
Armey has not discussed his plans with President Bush but has shared his intention with "friends in the White House."
Armey, 61, is in good health and under no pressure to retire, this person said. But by the end of the 2002 session, he would have been majority leader for eight years and believes he would be leaving when he and his party are "on top."
"He wants to go of his own volition and on his own terms, kind of like Ted Williams and Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan the first time," the associate said.
"If he were to go at the end of this Congress, he would go at a time when House Republicans are in the majority and appear to be safe in the majority for a fifth election cycle, with a Republican president in the White House and a string of legislative victories."
He would become the second major Republican officeholder from Texas to announce an end to a long political career. Earlier this year, Sen. Phil Gramm said he would not run for re-election in 2002.
Armey, a former University of North Texas economics professor, won his House seat in 1984.