By Elaine Porterfield
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire announced on Monday that she will not seek reelection to a third term.
"These are tough times and call for tough decisions," Gregoire, 64, said at a news conference. "Today I make another call and another tough decision. Today I say I will not run for a third term as governor of this great state."
Gregoire, a Democrat who was first elected governor in 2004 and contended with tough economic times, said she was retiring in order to spend more time with her family.
"It's a very personal decision but I have had the support of the people here with me today," Gregoire said while flanked by her husband, Mike, and two daughters.
"It has been a great experience and now I will look forward to the opportunity to get to know my husband again. I can spend some time with my daughters," she said.
Gregoire, who served three terms as Washington's attorney general before her election to the state's top office, said she hoped her success would encourage young women to consider public service as a career.
"I hope I've broken the glass ceiling for young women," she said. "There is nothing they can't do."
Gregoire's announcement clears a path for Democratic U.S. Representative Jay Inslee, who has indicated he may seek the governorship if she stepped aside.
Gregoire said she called Inslee the night before her announcement, but declined to elaborate on their conversation.
Last week, Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, announced he would run for governor.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)