PHOENIX – Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl held a news conference Thursday morning to announce his plans for 2012, and, as expected, announced his intention to retire rather than seek a fourth term in office.
Kyl is the fifth Senator to announce his imminent retirement in 2012. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D), Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) have all announced that they will be leaving the Senate.
There has been talk of Kyl's intention to retire for quite some time. The senator was quick to mention that there was "nothing negative" in his decision to leave officer at the end of his term.
"There comes a time when you have to consider other things," Kyl said during Thursday's news conference. "Carol and I have concluded that this is the time of us to end my public service in January 2013. ... There is no reason other than the fact that I think it's time.
"It has been an absolute honor for me to represent the people of Arizona."
Not having to worry about re-election will give him more time to to the best job he can in his last 22 months in office, Kyl said. Part of that time will be devoted to helping his colleagues in the Senate run their races.
Elected to his first Senate term in 1994, Kyl, 68, is the Senate Majority Whip, which makes him the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate. Before being elected to the Senate, Kyl served four terms in the House, representing Arizona’s District 4.
Kyl, who sits on the Senate Judiciary and Finance committees, has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama's agenda.
“Senator Jon Kyl's record of service to our state is something all Arizonans should be proud of," said Congressman David Schweikert in a statement released shortly after Kyl's announcement. "His tireless advocacy on behalf of our state for over 20 years has made Arizona a better place."
The newly open seat will likely draw interest from Republicans and Democrats alike. Potential contenders could include former Rep. John Shadegg and Rep. Jeff Flake. On the Democrats’ side, former state party chairman Jim Pederson and former state Attorney General Terry Goddard are considered possibilities.