TOPEKA | Kansas Republican Sam Brownback announced Thursday that he will not seek a third, six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
Brownback made his announcement at the Statehouse, saying he owed it to Kansans to keep his word and retire more than keeping seniority in the Senate.
"This is something that I need to do," he said. "I would lose a lot more and the people of Kansas would lose a lot more if I broke my word."
Brownback was elected to the Senate in 1996 to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Bob Dole who resigned to be the GOP nominee for president. Brownback then won full, six-year terms in 1998 and 2004.
"I love doing this," he said. "Your word is your bond. Once you give it, you stand by it."
It is widely expected that Brownback, 52, will return to Kansas and run for governor in 2010. However, Brownback declined to say Thursday what he would be doing after his term ended.
Brownback ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, dropping out early in the race and supporting eventual nominee John McCain.
Democrats hold the majority in the Senate with at least 57 seats to 41 Republicans. Two Independents also align themselves with Democrats. The Minnesota Senate race is still to be decided.
Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt, both Kansas Republicans, have expressed interest in giving up their House seats and running for Brownback's Senate seat in 2010. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been mentioned as a possible Democratic challenger.
Brownback said both Moran and Tiarht are good people and would serve the state well, though he also said he expects a lot of interest in the Senate seat.
Sen. Pat Roberts, also a Republican, was re-elected in November to Kansas' other Senate seat.