WASHINGTON – Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second highest-ranking Republican in the chamber, announced Thursday that he will retire in 2012.

Kyl, the Minority Whip, has served in the US Senate since 1995, and before that held a House seat in Arizona for eight years.

"There is no other reason than the fact it is time," Kyl told reporters at a news conference, according to The Associated Press. "It is time for me to do something else and time to give someone else a chance."

"Some people stay too long, and there are other things to do in life. I never expected to be in office for 26 years."

Reports swirled around the web Thursday morning about Kyl's likely retirement after Politico's Dave Catanese tweeted that the senator would not seek a fourth term next year.

Kyl, 68, was one of ten Republican senators up for re-election in 2012. He joins Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and three Democrats in vacating their seats following next November's election.

"In the Bible it says, of course, that there is a time for every thing," Kyl added, as quoted by Talking Points Memo.

The website reported that Kyl also said he considered retiring in 2006, but ended up staying because the GOP's chances of retaining the seat would have been diminished without him.

In tandem with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kyl helped craft the GOP's strategy of unrelenting opposition to Democrats' initiatives in the era of President Barack Obama.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC on Thursday, McConnell said Kyl's retirement was "a big loss for the country."