U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican who has represented Arizona in either the U.S. House or U.S. Senate since 1987, this morning announced he will not seek re-election to a fourth term and will retire when his current term ends in 2012.
“I think it’s better to leave when people have a very good attitude about you, rather than be hounded out of office like so many,” he told reporters at a hastily organized press conference in a Phoenix hotel meeting room. “There is more to life than being in the United States Senate. Some people stay too long and there are other things to do in life.”
Kyl was first elected to the U.S. House in 1986. In 1994, he was elected to the Senate, where he replaced Democrat Dennis DeConcini. He said he and his family first discussed the possibility that he would retire after his last re-election campaign in 2006.
He said he has no intention to run for any other public office after he retires.
Instead, Kyl said he hopes to use his remaining two years in office to push important legislation, including reforms to immigration and the tax code.
“I’m not going anywhere over the course of the next 22 months. If anything…(this announcement) should free me up to have even more time to do the best job that I can,” he said.
Kyl’s retirement announcement has set off a firestorm of speculation about who will run to replace him. Many believe U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake will be an early front-runner for the seat if he decides to run. In January, the Yellow Sheet Report, a sister publication of Arizona Capitol Times, noted Flake had hired Kyl’s longtime campaign finance director to be his chief fundraiser for the 2012 election, which set off speculation he was eyeing a Senate run.
Others have speculated the Congressmen Trent Franks and Ben Quayle may also weigh entering the race.