Image: U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman
Chris Kleponis  /  Getty Images
Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., speaks during a news briefing with Sen. John McCain in June 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/19/2011 1:36:13 PM ET 2011-01-19T18:36:13

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut lawmaker whose successful re-election run as an independent in 2006 resurrected him after defeat in the state’s Democratic primary, announced Wednesday he will not seek a fifth term.

The veteran lawmaker made the announcement in Stamford, Conn., surrounded by his wife, children and other family members.

"At the end of this term, I will have served 24 years in the U.S. Senate and 40 years in elective office," Lieberman said. "For me, it is time for another season and another purpose under Heaven," he added, making a Biblical reference to Ecclesiastes.

Video: Lieberman: 'It is time for another season' (on this page)

Lieberman said he intends to put his full energy into the remainder of his current term in the Senate and plans to stay engaged in public life after he leaves his seat. "I will keep doing everything in my power to build strong bridges across party lines," he said.

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Lieberman, 68, was defeated the last time he ran for the Democratic Senate nomination in Connecticut, in 2006, but won a new term running as an independent in a three-way race.

With Lieberman's exit, McCain 'buddy movie' comes to a close

Top Democrats like Sen. Christopher Dodd and President Barack Obama who had supported Lieberman in the 2006 primary instead backed Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in the fall general election. Lieberman was disappointed that some old friends weren't loyal to him.

In the years since, Lieberman aligned himself with Democrats in the Senate, who permitted him to chair a committee in return. Yet in 2008 he supported McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, who put the Connecticut lawmaker on his list of potential vice presidential running mates.

Video: Conrad, Lieberman to leave Senate (on this page)

Lieberman's decision to speak at the 2008 Republican presidential nominating convention angered Democrats, and the speech he gave contrasting Obama to McCain angered them more.

"In the Senate, during the 3 1/2 years that Sen. Obama has been a member, he has not reached across party lines to accomplish anything significant, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party to get something done," Lieberman said at the time.

Connecticut Democrats also have criticized Lieberman's strong support of the Iraq war, although they were pleased when he led the recent Senate fight to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Lieberman's poll ratings in his home state had slipped in recent years, encouraging Democratic challengers and sparking speculation about the senator's retirement. Lieberman's colleague, Dodd, recently retired from the Senate.

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Former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Tuesday she'll run in 2012 for Lieberman's seat.

Two Connecticut House Democrats, Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney, are also considering a run.

There had been speculation about whether Lieberman would run in 2012 as a Democrat, Republican or independent.

After the 2008 election and at Obama's urging, Senate Democrats decided not to punish Lieberman for supporting the Republican ticket. They voted to let him keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Obama was eager to strike a bipartisan tone for his presidency.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: Lieberman: 'It is time for another season'

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