Raleigh, N.C. — Janet Cowell, who has served as state treasurer since winning election in 2008, will not seek re-election in 2016.
"I have decided not to seek another term as Treasurer or any other elective office in 2016," Cowell wrote in an email to supporters Tuesday morning. "This has been one of the more difficult decisions in my life. I’ve prayed about it and discussed it with friends and family. I intend to serve out my term through 2016."
Word of Cowell's decision began to become widely circulated around the same time Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he would run for governor Monday night. Like Cooper, Cowell is a Democrat and former state senator.
Her email did not say what her next step might be.
"Treasurer Cowell's message to supporters reflects all she has to say at this time. She's traveling this week and not available," said her campaign spokeswoman.
The email ended by saying, "Public service, both in or out of elective office, will continue to be a part of my life. I look forward to the next adventure."
Cowell, 47, who has shown an ability to win statewide and tap broad support in the fundraising arena, was at one point recruited as a potential challenger to Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. She reportedly turned down that race earlier this year.
Cowell is a Wharton School of Business alumna and chairwoman of the North Carolina State Banking Commission.
She used the bulk of her email to talk up her tenure as state treasurer, including her department's takeover of the state employee health plan.
"As Treasurer, I stepped up to oversee and reform the State Health Plan to make sure that teachers and state employees have access to a solid health benefit. I also established two innovation funds of almost a half billion dollars to invest in North Carolina-centered companies," she wrote.
Her announcement surprised some of her colleagues. Cowell, by all appearances, was preparing for another run for most of this summer.
"I'm going to miss serving with Janet on the Council of State and campaigning with her in 2016," said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who called her "an outstanding State Treasurer." He added, "No matter what the future holds for her, Janet Cowell will continue to do great things. She has made a very positive impact on our State, and is a role model for the next generation of leaders."