We've been speculating here for weeks that Congressman Joel Hefley may be planning a surprise move, and it looks like he may be moving in that direction after all.
Hefley is telling a small number of friends and confidants that he plans to retire and make 2006 his final year in Congress, finishing with an even 20 years in the House. He is not thought to be considering another run at political office at this point, but instead will take his hefty pension and call it a career at his home in Colorado.
Hefley's 5th district is solidly conservative, meaning Republicans won't likely have to sweat losing the seat. But if he does retire it will set off a free-for-all Republican primary, with every nearby GOP politician and his mother entering the race.
There was talk that Hefley wasn't yet ready to make his plans public, so his office may issue the standard company line on this one. But it sounds like the man once labeled one of the 10 most obscure members of Congress may be taking his final laps around the capitol.