First U.S. Congressional District Rep. Timothy Walz announced Monday he would retire from Congress and run for governor of Minnesota.

The former Mankato West High School geography teacher is serving his fifth term in office and had a close race last fall with GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn.

Hagedorn has already announced his intentions to run for the congressional seat again and issued a statement upon learning of Walz's plans, saying early fundraising has been going well. Hagedorn added he looks forward to meeting with the people of southern Minnesota in an effort to gain what would then be an open seat.

Walz is the highest ranking Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

The First U.S. Congressional District is composed of 21 southern Minnesota counties including Rice, Steele, Waseca, Le Sueur, Dodge, Mower, Olmsted, Blue Earth, Freeborn, Nicollet, Brown, Houston, Martin, Nobles, Rock, Watonwan, Cottonwood, Fillmore, Jackson and Winona.

Gov. Mark Dayton has announced he will not be seeking re-election to the state's highest office.

Walz enters a field on the Democratic side that already includes St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and former State Rep. Erin Murphy. Eighth District U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan says he is also contemplating entering the race for Minnesota governor.

No candidate on the GOP side has officially announced their candidacy.

Minnesota 1st District Congressman Timothy J. Walz official photo- from U.S. House of Representatives