After the announcement by Congressman Greg Harper that he would not seek reelection in the U.S. House of Representatives, speculation swirled that Rhonda Keenum would attempt to succeed him. However, even with her significant history of work in the political realm, she says her heart is devoted to the Mississippi State family.

Her statement below:

“Since the announcement by our friend U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper that he would not seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, I have been honored and flattered by the encouragement of so many to pursue election to this Third Congressional District seat based upon my experience in the administration of President George W. Bush — a great man I admire, and for whom I was grateful to serve.

Working for President Bush in the White House, and later on the senior staff of the U.S. Commerce Department, I learned I had a resolute heart for public service, and an unwavering determination to facilitate meaningful change in a manner that helps our people, and benefits our state.

While truly humbled by the singularly positive response of so many to media speculation that I was considering running to succeed Congressman Harper, the reality is that I already have a spectacular, ongoing opportunity to contribute to our state and nation’s greatest treasure – our youth – from my current vantage point as First Lady at Mississippi State University.

My heart tells me that I want to continue this important work with our students, and want to continue devoting my full attention to my most important priority: my family and our four children. Through the years, I have come to learn and see firsthand that, at least for me, raising young children in Mississippi while working full-time in Washington are mutually exclusive. Family is first — and that will never change.

Therefore, I announce today I will not be pursuing a race for Congress.

As a strong, effective team with a singular devotion to our family and MSU, Mark Keenum and I have the good fortune, opportunity and honor to continue working with a great team of faculty, staff, alumni, donors and fans of this state’s transformational land grant university in preparing the next generation of Mississippi leaders for their own time to lead.

I remain energized and challenged by this exciting future. Despite the record growth and improvement of MSU during our family’s tenure here, there is much work still to do.

In making today’s announcement, I do not view this as a door closing to future public service — but rather, a door opening. Mississippi’s vast possibilities on the national and world stage in regard to business, commerce and technology are still to be fully realized. From the White House in Washington and from MSU here in Starkville, I’ve gained perspective, insight and wisdom into how Mississippi — and all Mississippians — can collectively benefit in the years and decades ahead by working together to fulfill the many God-given opportunities bestowed upon us.

Moving forward, I will continue to assess opportunities that present themselves to serve the people of Mississippi and this nation, as God and my family give me the wisdom, and compassion, to see them.”