WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ohio Sen. George Voinovich announced Monday that he will not seek a third term in 2010.
"After the next two years, it will be time to give someone else the opportunity to serve our great state in the Senate, someone who can devote full time to organizing their campaign and raising the money necessary to win," he said in a written statement.
The 72-year-old senator and former Ohio governor has been contemplating retirement for some time, but made his decision this weekend in Florida, where he was joined by his wife, children and grandchildren, a source close to the senator told CNN.
Voinovich is the fourth Republican senator whose term will expire at the end of 2010 to announce his intention to retire. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, said late last week that we will retire, joining Sens. Mel Martinez of Florida and Sam Brownback of Kansas who had already announced they will leave Capitol Hill when their terms end at the close of the 111th Congress.
Republicans must defend 15 incumbents and four open seats next year. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, whose term expires in 2012, is seriously considering a 2010 gubernatorial bid and could also be vacating her seat.
Meanwhile, Democrats have to defend 15 incumbents and two seats for which special elections are expected to be held. In Delaware, a special election will be scheduled for Vice President-elect Joe Biden's seat and New York will hold one if Sen. Hillary Clinton is confirmed as the next secretary of state.
– CNN's Dana Bash, Ed Henry, and Mark Preston contributed to this report.
Voinovich's full remarks after the jump
After prayerful consideration and much thought, my wife Janet and I have decided that I will not seek a third term in the United States Senate.
As I spent time with my family during the holidays and celebrated Janet’s birthday, I reflected on God’s blessings on our family: my wife, our three children, our seven grandchildren and our health.
I also spent time thinking about the health of our country. In my lifetime of public service, I have never seen the country in such perilous circumstances. Not since the Great Depression and the Second World War have we been confronted with such challenges, as a nation and as a world.
Those of us that have been given the honor to serve in these times must step up to the plate and put this country on a course that will see it through these harrowing times and make it strong and viable for the 21st century.
These next two years in office, for me, will be the most important years that I have served in my entire political career.
I must devote my full time, energy and focus to the job I was elected to do, the job in front of me, which seeking a third term – with the money-raising and campaigning that it would require – would not allow me to do.
In addition, Janet and I have concluded that once my second term is complete, we should devote ourselves to our children and grandchildren. We have been blessed with good health, but we’re no spring chickens. In 2010, I will be 74 years old and will have served 44 years in public office, having been elected to more public offices than any other person in Ohio history.
I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve my statehouse district, my county, city, state and nation and feel good about the fact that with the help of some extraordinary people, many of whom are no longer with us, I have made a difference and will, with God’s help and a great team in my Senate office, continue to make a difference during these next two critical years. We intend not to wind down—but to wind up, just like I did in the Mayor’s office as well as the Governor’s office.
We have a great deal to do in this Congress, and I will continue to focus on the areas that matter most: providing the nation a responsible stimulus package; jump-starting our credit markets; re-establishing confidence in the housing market and stemming the tide on mortgage foreclosures; harmonizing our nation’s economic, energy and environmental policies; ensuring safe and stable highways; and continuing to improve the personnel and management of the federal government.
After the next two years, it will be time to give someone else the opportunity to serve our great state in the Senate, someone who can devote full time to organizing their campaign and raising the money necessary to win.
This has not been an easy decision for us. I still have the fire in my belly to do the work of our nation, but after serving the next two years, it will be time to step back and spend the rest of our time with our children and grandchildren, siblings and extended family and friends.
We both are confident that God has a plan for us to use the time, energy and talents that He has given us to make a difference in another way.