NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) _ Nine-term Rep. Herbert H. Bateman announced today that he will not seek re-election because of worries about his health.

Bateman, a 71-year-old Republican, has represented the 1st District in eastern Virginia since 1983. His current term expires in January 2001.

Bateman had surgery in November to remove plaque from his carotid artery. He has undergone radiation treatment after having a cancerous growth removed from his right lung in April 1998.

The congressman said today that his health ``has to be my first priority right now.''

As chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Readiness, Bateman has been a supporter of Newport News Shipbuilding in the neighboring 3rd District. Many of the shipyard's workers live in his district.

Bateman is the second Virginia congressman to drop out of the 2000 elections. On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Owen B. Pickett said he would not seek an eighth term. He represents most of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.