URBANA, Ill. (AP) — Longtime Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson says he’s dropping his re-election campaign and plans to retire when his current term ends.

The six-term Republican made the announcement Thursday. He cited family obligations.

The 65-year-old Johnson has never fit the mold of the reliable, party-line Republican. But his decision was a surprise and has left his party scrambling to fend off Democratic efforts to pick up seats and retake the U.S. House.

Johnson was first elected to Congress in 2000, and he built a reputation for breaking with his party on certain issues.

Last year he called for quick ends to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and last month backed Ron Paul for president. Johnson also is known for trying to personally call each of his constituents.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Watch & Listen LIVE