Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, facing an uphill challenge for a third term as minority leader, announced on Facebook Friday he will not seek that position for the 2021-22 sessions.

Neville said in the Facebook post, first reported by Alec Burness of The Denver Post, that "it has been an honor to serve" as minority leader for the past four years. " stepping aside I will be able to lead with the grassroots and champion Conservative values while representing my district with a stronger voice."

Neville told Colorado Politics Friday that he started working on an Executive MBA in March and needs more time for that pursuit. He announced his decision now "in hopes folks will stop trying to sabotage our efforts to win more seats so they can run for it. Hopefully everyone can focus on adding seats instead. It also frees me up for future moves, whether it is private sector or public service."

Under Neville's leadership, the House GOP caucus went from 27 seats to 24 after the 2018 session. That included two seats never before represented by Democrats, in House District 25, now served by Democratic Rep. Lisa Cutter of Littleton, and House District 37, with Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial. 

Sullivan defeated incumbent Rep. Cole Wist, who had been assistant House minority leader in the 2017-18 sessions, but Wist faced opposition from within his own caucus over support for the 2018 red flag bill. With Sullivan as a co-sponsor, the law passed in the 2019 session. 

Neville has also taken heat from his caucus over his failure to elect Republicans to the House in 2018, despite raising more than $1.2 million. The campaign committees run by his brother, Joe, intended to elect Republicans, instead left $305,000 on the table after the 2018 election.

The handwriting on the wall for Neville began to loom large after the June 30 primary, when three more conservative Republican candidates for the House in Weld County, all backed by Neville and/or his allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, all lost to more moderate candidates. All three of those House districts, currently represented by term-limited Republicans who were Neville allies, are considered safe seats.

Rep. Lois Landgraf of Colorado Springs, who had been mentioned as a possible challenger to Neville after the 2018 elections, said Friday that Neville "has had four years as leader. It's time for someone to take the caucus in a different direction. Our goal for the future has to be to get more traditional Republicans elected to office. It's the only way the party will survive."

Most likely to succeed Neville: Republican Rep. Hugh McKean of Loveland, who is running for his third term in the House. 

Joey Bunch contributed to this article.

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