Sen. George Winner, who was once touted as a potential statewide contender (most likely for attorney general), has just announced he won’t seek re-election this year, leaving the GOP with one more empty seat to defend this fall.

Winner is the third fourth Republican to announce that he won’t run. (As a commenter noted, Sen. Vincent Leibell also isn’t seeking re-election this fall. He’s running for Putnam County executive instead.

Sen. Dale Volker is also taking a pass this year (he was facing a tough primary challenge), and Sen. Tom Morahan is suffering from Leukemia and is unable to face the rigors of the campaign trail.

The 53rd Senate District seems like a safe seat for the GOP. The enrollment: 73,600 Republicans, 59,900 Democrats, 32,900 independents.

Winner didn’t give a specific reason as to why he’s not seeking a fourth consecutive term. We have a call into him seeking more information. Here’s some of his statement:

“It seems like I’ve spent a lifetime at the Capitol, on the floor of both the Assembly and Senate, standing up and speaking out for our region and for all of upstate New York, and I guess I have,” Winner said in a statement released this afternoon.

“It’s a commitment that I wouldn’t hesitate to give all over again.”

(Snip).

“It’s been a good run, I’ve given it my all, and it’s simply time for me to hand off this tradition of service to someone else who, I hope, will be no less willing and able to keep heading back to the Capitol year after year, legislative session after legislative session, and floor debate after floor debate to constantly and steadily roll up their sleeves, get down in the trenches, stand on their principles, shout out their fundamental beliefs, and carry on the fight for upstate’s rightful place in this government.”

“In my view, there’s no work that’s more important in New York government today than this single-minded pursuit for the future of upstate.”

UPDATE: After the break, see what else Winner had more to say to Capital Tonight’s Kaitlyn Ross

“32 years…we think it’s time,” said Winner over the phone.

“I’m healthy and active and I want to spend my time pursuing other interests–some travel, spending time in some other place other than Albany.”

When asked if he decided not to run because he would have to disclose potentially damaging client information from his private law practice, Winner shrugged it off and called that allegation partisan nonsense.

“I’ve been listening to that for years. I have no conflicts of interest that would rise to the level of any problem.”

Winner is confident Republicans can retain the Southern Tier district. He says there are two Assembly members from that area that are interested and would make strong candidates.