The Daily Caller first noticed this message on Rep. Ron Paul’s Facebook page.  Instead of going for his 19th term in Congress while running for President, Paul will only focus on winning the Republican presidential nomination:

Big news! I have decided not to seek re-election for my House seat in 2012 and will focus all of my energy winning the Presidency. My hometown newspaper The Facts will be running the exclusive story very shortly.

Over at the hometown newspaper, Paul goes into a little more detail:

After serving almost 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul told The Facts this morning he will not be seeking another term for the District 14 seat.

Paul, 75, will instead focus on his quest for the presidency in 2012.

“I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election,” Paul said. “It’s about that time when I should change tactics.”

His announcement will give enough time for anyone with aspirations for his seat to think about running, he said. Paul didn’t want to wait for filing in the 2012 primary to let people know he wasn’t seeking reelection.

“I didn’t want to hold off until in December,” he said. “I thought it shouldn’t be any later than now.”

The Facts needs to do The Math [see update — they’re correct].  Paul first won election to Congress in a 1976 special election, lost later that year, and then won again in 1978.  He’s served parts of 18 terms in the House, which adds up in this case to a little over 34 years when his current term expires.

Paul either really wants to retire or really thinks that he’s on the cusp of a major upset in the GOP primary.  I’ll assume that he has a somewhat realistic view of his prospects in this primary, where he might wind up as the runner-up among Texans if Rick Perry jumps into the race.  He’ll be 76 years old next month, and with his son in the Senate, Paul may feel comfortable with retirement after one last national campaign that puts his somewhat erratic libertarianism on the GOP presidential agenda for a second straight cycle.  If he’s not taking a realistic view of his chances, then perhaps he believes that the only thing that held him back from besting John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee in any 2008 primary was his simultaneous campaign for re-election.  If so, then he really needs this retirement.

Of course, Paul could change his mind before the end of the year, but after this kind of announcement, it would be hard to sell even to the adoring voters in his district.  Looks like the end of the road for the man best known for contrarian votes on meaningless resolutions and for railing against government spending while garnering pork for his constituents.

Update: Time for me to do The Math.  The newspaper has it right; Paul retired from the House in 1984 to run for President, and didn’t return until 1997.