Douglas Campbell has revealed “increased family commitments” are behind his move to quit as council leader.
South Ayrshire’s SNP chief is walking from the top job after three years at the helm.
He admitted the decision had been taken with “sadness”.
Cllr Campbell, who will continue serving his Ayr North ward for the SNP, insisted he was “looking forward” to working with his successor.
But the dad-of-one will now spend more time at home caring for his wife, Brenda.
A statement announcing his departure on Sunday had given no reasoning for the move.
But Cllr Campbell, 65, confirmed on Monday: “My reasons for standing down as leader are increased family commitments.”
A battle for the leadership is now set to ensue with current SNP deputy, William Grant, and Peter Henderson the likely frontrunners.
The Post understands “two camps” are already forming behind the senior Carrick councillors ahead of the bid to succeed the outgoing leader.
It comes as a senior SNP source insisted Cllr Campbell was not pushed out of the leadership.
The source said: “There was no coup. It was Douglas’ decision.
“There was no pressure for him to go. He could have remained for a number of years.
“He decided to step down because of family circumstances.”
His replacement will be put forward after an upcoming SNP group meeting expected to take place in a week’s time.
The final decision on his successor will be made at a special council meeting before the end of June.
Possible major contender Councillor Henderson was newly elected to represent Girvan and South Carrick in 2017.
His potential rival Councillor Grant has been a councillor for eight years covering Maybole, Carrick and Coylton.
Before that he was a community councillor.
In response to a question about the leadership race, Councillor Grant said: “I haven’t made a decision yet. I’m looking into it.
“It is something we have to deal with quickly.”
A political source said both men were hard workers and committed to the SNP.
Cllr Campbell, who joined the SNP in 2011 after spells with Labour and as an Independent, said leading the council had been a “great privilege”.
And he claimed that under his leadership, South Ayrshire has been made “a better place to live, where people can grow, live and age
The veteran of County Buildings is the last remaining relic of the old Kyle and Carrick days.
He famously hit the headlines in 2014 when caught playing fantasy war games in an Ayr toy shop while a key vote on the future of the town took place.
But he rode the storm and in 2017 ascended the throne when doing a post-election deal to join forces with Labour and the council’s two Independent councillors.
However, within a year his own SNP colleagues were plotting to oust him and launched a failed coup.
All group members then signed a declaration of support to back his leadership, which has endured to this day.
The council’s opposition leader, Tory Martin Dowey, said: “Although we didn’t always agree on political matters and on the general direction of the council, on a personal level we have an amicable relationship and my group wish him well for the future.”