trey gowdyDogged conservative reportedly not running for re-election

South Carolina Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, a conservative darling for his fiery floor speeches and tough questioning of Hillary Clinton as chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, is not running for re-election, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., tells C-SPAN.

“Trey wants to go back to South Carolina, and God bless him for that,” Fleming told C-SPAN. Fleming says Gowdy has also informed other Republicans of his decision to leave “at the end of his term.”

“He plans to go back home, and he wants to finish his work on the Benghazi special committee. But he loves South Carolina and he loves his family, and he wants to go back and spend the rest of his life there,” said Fleming.

Some conservatives speculate Gowdy may be considering a later run for U.S. Senate.

South Carolina’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, is 60 years old and serving his third term.  Should a Republican win the 2016 presidential race, Graham could be in line for Cabinet or Pentagon appointment.

While popular at home, Graham is also finding himself at odds with the national Republican Party’s conservative base.

Gowdy is a conservative darling, with the proven ability to raise millions of dollars from a national base.

Gowdy is also close to Republican leadership.  He was one of Speaker John Boehner’s biggest supporters, and Boehner urged him to run for Majority Leader.

POLITICO reports Boehner “secretly met with Rep. Trey Gowdy Tuesday to encourage him to jump into the race for House majority leader, a dramatic attempt by the chamber’s top Republican to try to influence the intraparty election.”

“The previously undisclosed meeting reveals new behind-the-scenes involvement by Boehner, who has not endorsed any candidates in the leadership race. That the Ohio Republican inserted himself in the contest underscores his concern about who succeeds him in GOP leadership. Boehner requested the meeting after word spread that Gowdy was considering a bid for the post,” POLITICO reports.

“Many Republicans close to Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy believe Gowdy could help protect the California Republican’s right flank. McCarthy allies fear hard-line conservatives could block his ascent to the speaker’s chair during the vote on the House floor, throwing the chamber into turmoil,” POLITICO continued.

Gowdy turned down Boehner’s offer and will not run for Majority Leader.

“I’m staying on the Benghazi committee,” Gowdy told reporters. “Period. Exclamation point.”

Gowdy would not be able to serve as both Majority Leader and Benghazi committee chair.

Despite Gowdy’s insistence he will not run for Majority Leader, and his reported retirement, House Republicans remain convinced they can talk him into staying.

“Trey Gowdy is not the kind of person who is gonna go out and overtly campaign for it,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told reporters. “But if the conference rallies behind him, I think he would reluctantly serve, and I and a lot of others believe that he would do the best job of uniting the conference and making the case to the American people.”

But would challenging Lindsey Graham, or succeeding him, be too big an opportunity for Gowdy to pass up?