U.S. Senator Jon Kyl has ended months of speculation and announced he will not run for reelection in 2012. At a Phoenix news conference this morning, Kyl said he feels it is better to leave while on top than to be forced out of office as has happened to a number of his colleagues.

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U.S. Senator Jon Kyl.

Senator Kyl is the number two ranking Republican in the Senate, so his exit will mean a change in leadership in two years.

Politics is part of the reason Kyl says he is exiting now. He explained he wants to ensure whoever decides to run will have the necessary time to mount a full campaign.

The announcement means Kyl is a lame duck which he says gives him the freedom to pursue certain legislation that is more politically sensitive.

That includes entitlement reform and a comprehensive immigration bill. He joked that maybe he would form a caucus with other members who are retiring, like Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), to push those hot button issues.

As for the future, Kyl said he is finished with Washington, pointing out that there is more to life than the U.S. Senate. Nevertheless, he said that if a Vice Presidential nomination were offered, he would take that position.