Democratic Rep. Marion Berry announced Monday that he will retire, citing health concerns — not frustrations he's vented with the Obama administration — as he became the second Arkansas congressman to scrap a re-election bid.

Democratic Rep. Marion Berry announced Monday that he will retire, citing health concerns — not frustrations he's vented with the Obama administration — as he became the second Arkansas congressman to scrap a re-election bid.

"I've had developments in my own personal health since the first of the year that have changed my life considerably and are probably going to change it some more," Berry told reporters hours after his office announced his retirement.

Earlier Monday, Berry said the health problems meant he was "no longer able to serve the district with the vitality I once possessed." Berry declined to elaborate on the health problems, but said they were not life-threatening.

Berry, 67, had told staffers and friends on Sunday that he planned to announce his retirement. Though he had said in the past that he had no plans to retire, Berry fueled speculation last week when he told a radio interviewer asking about his re-election plans that "nothing is certain in this world but death."

He was elected to represent the 1st district in eastern Arkansas in 1996 after serving in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to the president for agricultural trade and food assistance. In 2008, he was re-elected without opposition.

This year, Berry faced opposition from Republican Rick Crawford, who owns a regional agricultural radio network. His retirement has prompted several Democrats in the area to consider running for the post.

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, Berry vented frustration with the Obama administration.

"I've been really disappointed in the lack of leadership from the president on health care and on climate change and some things like that," Berry said. "Where he did take an approach, I think he took the wrong one."

Berry on Monday downplayed those concerns and said they didn't lead to his retirement.

"All White Houses are frustrating, especially for Congress," Berry said. "It doesn't matter who the president is or what the situation is and I think that's a naturally occurring thing. While I have been frustrated, I don't think it's anything unusual for the Obama administration and certainly not anymore than I was with George W. Bush."

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe said he was surprised by Berry's retirement but said the congressman had talked in recent years about the difficulty of traveling at his age and his health. Beebe said he believed the congressman still had strong support in the district.

"I think he would have been re-elected," Beebe said. "That district has always favored him and the majority of the people over there, I think, really like him."

Berry, a licensed pharmacist and farmer, has been a vocal advocate on lowering prescription costs for seniors. He's also been outspoken on agriculture issues and has been pushing for an end to the nation's trade embargo with Cuba.

Berry is also a member of the coalition of moderate to conservative lawmakers known as "Blue Dog" Democrats.

Berry is the second Arkansas congressman to announce this month that he will retire, after Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder said he would not seek an eighth term representing the 2nd District in central Arkansas.

Republicans welcomed the news of Berry's retirement, blaming his exit on a public backlash to his support of Democratic-led efforts to overhaul the health care system.

Several Democrats said Monday that they were considering running for the seat, including state Sen. Robert Thompson of Paragould, Rep. Keith Ingram of West Memphis and former state Rep. Chris Thyer.

Chad Causey, Berry's chief of staff, said he was considering all of his options after Berry's retirement. Causey said he took an upaid leave from Berry's office starting Sunday, and said he would spend this deciding on the best way to serve the east Arkansas district.

Arkansas' primary is on May 18.

Berry's district has voted reliably Democratic in congressional races. Democrats occupy three of the state's four U.S. House seats, both its Senate seats and all statewide offices. But Arkansas has seen its voters move increasingly Republican in presidential elections. Republican John McCain won the state's six electoral votes with a 20-point lead over Obama in the 2008 election.

Republicans have targeted Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who has faced criticism over her support of health care legislation and has seen her approval numbers slip. Rep. John Boozman, a Republican representing northwest Arkansas, has said he is thinking about running for the GOP nomination to challenge Lincoln. Nine Republicans have announced they're seeking the party's nomination to challenge Lincoln this fall.