JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said Thursday that she will not run for Missouri attorney general next year, citing a commitment to her current job and family.
Hanaway, a Republican, had strongly considered entering the race. Instead, she intends to remain as the U.S. attorney in eastern Missouri until a new president takes office in 2009.
"I love the job, I love my family," Hanaway said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I've made commitments to both of them and I don't want to shortchange either."
Hanaway's decision to bow out of the race leaves Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, of Kirkwood, as the only Republican standing in what once figured to be a hot, three-way primary.
Gibbons plans to officially announce his candidacy Saturday.
State Sen. Chris Koster, of Harrisonville, who also has been campaigning for attorney general, switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in August.
Hanaway is a former state lawmaker who led the Republican takeover of the House in the 2002 elections and subsequently served as the first female House speaker from January 2003 to January 2005.
She lost a bid for secretary of state in 2004 to Democrat Robin Carnahan.
In April 2005, Bush appointed her to succeed U.S. Attorney Raymond Gruender, who left to become a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hanaway, 43, of Warson Woods, acknowledged she had been weighing a campaign for Missouri attorney general since the day after the 2004 election. Deciding not to pursue it was "probably the hardest decision of my life," she said.
"I think I owe it to the taxpayers and the career employees here to see things through to the end of my term," Hanaway said.
Another benefit of remaining in St. Louis, instead of embarking on a statewide campaign, is that Hanaway gets to spend more time with her daughter Lucy, 9, and son, Jack, 5.
"That's a very big factor," she said. "I get that Lucy is three years away from the beginning of the teenage years, and that those are a very precious three years."
Hanaway said she informed Gibbons on Monday that she would not be running against him.
Missouri's current attorney general, Democrat Jay Nixon, is not seeking re-election because he is instead challenging Republican Gov. Matt Blunt in the 2008 elections.
Two Democratic House members who are attorneys -- Jeff Harris, of Columbia, and Margaret Donnelly, of St. Louis -- already have entered the 2008 attorney general's race. Although he has been raising money and campaigning, Koster has not yet officially declared his candidacy.