"This has not been an easy decision for us," Voinovich, a Republican, said in a statement. "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."
Voinovich would have run again in 2010, and as the Associated Press notes, he is the third Senate Republican from a competitive state to announce retirement in recent weeks. (The other two are Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri and Mel Martinez of Florida. Kansas' Sam Brownback has also announced he won't run again, though his seat is more solidly Republican.) The trend seems to improve Democrats' chances of widening their Senate majority to a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the next round of elections.
"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," Voinovich said in his statement.
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman is a potential Republican contender for Voinovich's seat, according to the AP, while possible Democratic contenders include Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Attorney General Richard Cordray and U.S. Rep. Zack Space of Dover.
Full Voinovich statement below.
Please see below for a statement from Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-OH):
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.