Governor John Lynch says he will not seek a fifth term in 2012.
The Governor made his announcement at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester, flanked by past and present staff and selected supporters.
"To refresh and revive itself, democracy needs new leaders and new ideas," Lynch said. "I think it's time for the next generation of leadership for New Hampshire."
With approval ratings standing above 65 percent, the Hopkinton Democrat would have been well-positioned for winning a fifth term.
Now that he's out of the race, the race for the corner office is much more open, and could be a pickup opportunity for Republicans; in 2010, Lynch was the only major Democratic officeholder to win his race.
Republican Ovide Lamontagne is all but certain to make a run in 2012; he ran for governor and lost against Jeanne Shaheen in 1996. More candidates who have been considering a run may decide to join the field with Lynch out of the race.
Former Democratic state senator Maggie Hassan has said she might run in 2012, but only if Lynch didn't seek reelection.