Evan Vucci, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2011 file photo, Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform speaks a news conference on deficit reduction, at the National Press Club in Washington. Bowles, a Charlotte investment banker is being asked to consider public service again _ this time by fellow Democrats in his home state who want him to run for governor after incumbent Beverly Perdue shocked many last week by announcing she wouldn't seek re-election.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Former White House Chief of Staff and two-time U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles passed Thursday on a bid for North Carolina governor, saying there are "lots of ways to add to the community woodpile" through public service.

The Charlotte investment banker and co-chairman of a national bipartisan commission that recommended tough choices to lower the deficit had been considered a potentially formidable opponent in this year's election. Republicans had considered Bowles a tough rival for presumptive GOP nominee Pat McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor.

The Democratic nominee's post opened up one week ago when Gov. Beverly Perdue announced she wouldn't run for re-election. At least a half-dozen other current and former elected officials also have considered getting in the race. Two are already in.

"I will not be a candidate for governor. I've spent a lot of time trying to think what is the right thing for me to do," Bowles said in an email.

"I don't think anyone questions my love for North Carolina or my efforts to make our state a better place to live, work or raise a family," he added. "I've done my best in this regard and I plan to continue to do so."

He made a reference to advice given by his late father, Skipper Bowles, about serving people.

"There are lots of ways to make a difference, lots of ways to add to the community woodpile," he said.

Bowles, 66, had been encouraged by many Democrats to get in the race, saying his long resume in the state and nationally would be a great asset.

"Erskine Bowles would have made one of the most phenomenal, well-qualified governors in the history of this state," state Democratic Party Chairman David Parker said.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who's already running, called Bowles a "man I greatly respect and admire. We've worked together throughout the years on many issues and he's a true public servant. I feel confident he will remain an influential voice in state and national policy."

The other announced candidate, state Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, tweeted that Bowles is a "great North Carolinian and a great American."

Other candidates expressing interested in a bid have been waiting to see what Bowles would do. People who've said they're considering a run but haven't announced their intentions are U.S. Reps. Brad Miller and Mike McIntyre, former Rep. Bob Etheridge and ex-State Treasurer Richard Moore.

Democrats have held the governor's mansion in North Carolina since 1993. Only two Republicans have been governor in the past 100 years.