Sen. Jon Kyl Announces Retirement

BY Quinn Bowman  February 10, 2011 at 12:06 PM EDT

Updated 2 p.m. ET

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., made his decision not to run for reelection official at an event in Phoenix Thursday. In a letter to supporters, Kyl explained his decision:

“Simply put, it is time – time to do something new, time to have a more flexible schedule for my family, and time to give others an opportunity. My health is fine, I’m confident I could win reelection, and, while I don’t like some aspects of political life, they have been worth enduring because of the tremendous opportunity I’ve had to represent Arizonans. So, there is no ‘negative’ reason for my decision,” Kyl wrote.

Originally posted noon ET

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, is expected to announce Thursday that he is retiring at the end of his term in 2012, the Washington Post and other media organizations are reporting, ending a 25-year career in Congress and leaving an open seat in the 2012 election.

Kyl is the fifth senator to announce retirement this year. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Jim Webb, D-Va., have all announced that they will not seek reelection.

Most recently, Kyl was the face of an unsuccessful Republican effort during the lame-duck session of the last Congress to block passage of a new START treaty with Russia. He spoke with Jim Lehrer about the treaty a few months ago.

Kyl was elected to the House in 1986, and then to the Senate in 1994.
Arizona is dominated statewide by Republicans, who control both Senate seats, the governorship, and all statewide elective offices.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, Tweeted that he was moving the Arizona senate race from “solid R” to “lean R” in his “Crystal Ball” election predictions
.
“Jon Kyl was shoo-in. But w/ big Hispanic population and Obama targeting, AZ might be competitive. Might,” Sabato Tweeted.