Utah Senator Mitt Romney said on Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in 2024, creating a wide-open contest in a state that heavily favours Republicans and is expected to attract a crowded field.
Mr Romney, a former presidential candidate and governor of Massachusetts, made the announcement in a video statement.
The 76-year-old senator said the country is ready for a new generation of leadership.
“Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders,” he said. “They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
He added that he would be in his mid-80s at the end of another six-year term.
While he did not directly reference the ages of President Joe Biden, 80, or former president Donald Trump, 77, who are the leaders for their parties’ 2024 presidential nominations, he accused both men of not responding enough to the growing national debt, climate change and other long-term issues.
“Both men refuse to address entitlements even though they represent two-thirds of federal spending,” he said in the video.
“Donald Trump calls global warming a hoax, and President Biden offers feel-good solutions that will make no difference to the global climate. On China, President Biden underinvests in the military, and President Trump underinvests in our alliances.”
A number of influential older politicians, including Dianne Feinstein and Mitch McConnell, have suffered recent public health scares that have raised concerns about whether they are able to perform their duties.
The Utah senator had said in August that he would reveal his decision on running for another Senate term by the autumn, according to CNBC.
He was elected to the Senate in 2018, a return to elected office for the former governor of Massachusetts who mounted a failed bid to unseat then-president Barack Obama in 2012.
During his time in Congress, he has been a rare Republican critic of Mr Trump and was the only member of the party to vote to convict Mr Trump following his first impeachment trial in early 2020.