Editor’s note: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) was last reelected in 2022. A previous version of this story contained the incorrect year.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he is retiring at the end of his term, creating a rare vacancy in a deep blue state on the 2024 map.

“It’s time,” Cardin, 79, told The Baltimore Sun in an interview. “I always knew this election cycle would be the one I would be thinking about not running again, so it’s not something that hit me by surprise. I enjoy life. There are other things I can do.”

The Maryland Democrat is expected to speak more about the decision this afternoon. 

Cardin, who is in the midst of his third term, is one of three Senate Democrats to announce plans not to seek reelection in 2024, alongside Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). 

Cardin also served in the House for 20 years and has carved out a serious persona during his tenure on Capitol Hill on a number of key committees. He currently chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

He won his first Senate term in 2006, replacing the longtime Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), and easily won reelection twice. 

His decision will prompt what is expected to be a primary battle to fill a spot that rarely comes open in Maryland. Over the last 40 years, only five people have represented Maryland in the Senate, with Sarbanes and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) having served for 30 years apiece. 

Among those who are expected to consider a run are Reps. Dave Trone (D-Md.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who has become a favorite among progressives. 

Raskin said in February that he would be open to a run, but has been battling cancer (large B-cell lymphoma) since late last year. Raskin announced late last week that he was in remission. 

While Democrats have worked hard to limit the number of retirements in the upper chamber given the need to defend some key seats, it would take a major undertaking for a Republican to have a chance to win the Maryland seat. No Republican has held a Senate seat in the Old Line State since the 1980s. 

 Democrats are defending 23 seats of members who caucus or vote with the party this cycle compared to only 11 for Republicans. 

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was heavily recruited by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take on Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in 2022, but he passed on a bid and has shown little appetite for running for the upper chamber since then. He also sidestepped a 2024 presidential bid for the Republican nomination.

Updated at 12:17 p.m.