Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2012.
"When my current term is up, I will have served Texas for 19 years in the United States Senate," she said in a statement. "I intended to leave this office long before now, but I was persuaded to continue in order to avoid disadvantage to our state. The last two years have been particularly difficult, especially for my family, but I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period."
Hutchison, who took office in 1993, vowed to continue to "fight the massive spending that has increased our national debt; the government takeover of our health care system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens our economy" until her term ends next year.
Last year, Hutchison unsuccessfully challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican gubernatorial primary. She had vowed to leave the Senate for the gubernatorial run but ultimately elected not to do so.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz welcomed the news in a statement, noting that the first announced Senate retirement in 2012 comes from a Republican.
"We look forward to running a competitive race in Texas as the Lone Star state is now one of several Democratic pick-up opportunities next November," he said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called Hutchison "a trusted advisor and friend, a senator who always serves Texas first."
"Fortunately, she's not leaving soon," he said in a statement. "While I'm confident she'll continue to be a powerful advocate for her state and nation over the next two years, the Senate will miss her strength and energy when she leaves."