Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, says he will not seek re-election in 2014.
The staunch Christian and fiscal conservative said on Monday that he planned to retire.
The 63-year-old Perry entered the race for president in 2011, but dropped out. He is best known in that campaign for last year's election for uttering "Oops" during a debate after forgetting the third of three federal agencies he wanted to eliminate if elected.
Before that, he stirred controversy by suggesting Texas could secede from the United States, and for shooting a coyote with a concealed handgun while jogging.
Still, he is considered one of the most powerful Texas governors ever because he served long enough to fill every state agency with his loyalists. He has been in office nearly 13 years.
Perry had never lost an election during his 27-year political career and became a near-instant front runner when he strapped on his signature cowboy boots and strode into the crowded race for the Republican presidential nomination in August 2011. But his presidential run flamed out spectacularly.
He has been back in the spotlight over the issue of abortion.
Just last month, he had a notable confrontation with state senator Wendy Davis, who drew international attention for giving a half-day speech against proposed abortion restrictions.
She is considered the likely front runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, should she run.
Her speech successfully kept a vote on the restrictions from taking place during a special session of the legislature, but Perry called lawmakers into a new 30-day special session to take up the bill again.
Opponents of the bill, which among other things would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, say it would force most Texas abortion clinics to close.
Texas Republicans on Monday pushed on with aggressive efforts to pass the restrictions, while both anti-abortion demonstrators and abortion rights activists planned to rally.