Former WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby ended Democrats' hope that he would run for Congress next year.

"It became clear to me that this was the wrong time in life for the wrong guy to make a run for Congress," Shelby told the Star Tribune on Friday.

National Democrats had pressed Shelby to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen. The former television fixture is well-known throughout the state, and Democrats believed he could have succeeded in the moderate suburban Third Congressional District, which has long been in Republican hands.

In dashing Democrats' hopes, Shelby joins the long list of potential top recruits deciding to sit out 2014 runs for office.

Republicans had talked up potential U.S. Senate runs by U.S. Rep. John Kline and Paulsen, but both sitting House members decided they would stick with the districts that brought them to Washington.

Democrats had been high on businessman Jim Graves, who had plotted a second run against Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann next year. But shortly after Bachmann announced she would not run in 2014, Graves bailed out as well.

DFLers had also been excited about CaringBridge website founder Sona Mehring, who announced a run against Kline. But shortly after Kline said he would run for the House again next year, Mehring said she had decided to return to work at the nonprofit website for the families of sick people that has become a multimillion-dollar venture.

Across the country, many potential recruits have decided not to enter the world of Washington politics, seeing more possibility for change outside its partisan walls.

"There were two frightening possibilities: one that I would be elected, and one that I would lose," Shelby said on Friday.

He told WCCO, his former television home, "When you see statements by [U.S. House Speaker] John Boehner that says our job is not to pass laws but to repeal them, it makes you wonder who in his or her right mind would really want to get into that business, especially if they come from a background of trying to change things."

The former anchor, who would have started the race as a political newcomer, told the Star Tribune that he probably would not have excelled in Washington, didn't really consider himself a Democrat and was uncomfortable leaving journalism behind.

"I really don't think I'd be a very good representative for the Third District of Minnesota because as a freshman I would probably come in there pretty loud and opinionated, but opinionated based on facts," he said. "And I probably wouldn't be the perfect Democrat candidate because my tendency as a reporter is to go where the facts are, and if the conservatives held the facts on one side, then I'd have a tendency to find some importance in supporting public policy based in the facts that they held."

Paulsen won his third term last year with 58 percent of the vote, the same year Democratic President Obama won 49 percent of the vote in the district, narrowly edging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 3,000 votes.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB