State Rep. Kelby Woodard, a Belle Plain Republican who has been a rising star for the party in the state House, has announced he won't seek re-election this year. 

In a statement released to the Le Sueur News-Herald, Woodard said he's been asked to help start a new Catholic high school and does not plan to be on the ballot in 2014. Susan Closmore, communications director for House Republicans, confirmed the statement's legitimacy. Woodard did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Woodard was elected to the House in 2010. Last year, he became an assistant minority leader, and in recent months frequently served as a spokesman for House Republicans at press conferences. He rooms with House Republican Leader Kurt Daudt when the two are staying in St. Paul during the legislative session. 

Woodard's district includes parts of Scott, Rice and Le Sueur counties. He said in his media statement that he's been grateful for the chance to serve but is excited about the opportunity to "give back to the community in a new way." Woodard said the school would be dedicated to providing a college preparatory environment for kids from families in poverty who struggle to succeed in school. 

Woodard, a married father of five, is a former Target executive who went on to found several companies focused on international trade. In addition to his role in House GOP leadership, he has been serving as the caucus lead on K-12 funding issues. 

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