Just three days after he interviewed with Albany County Democratic leaders and received their endorsement to run for a sixth term, Mayor Jerry Jennings has announced he will not seek re-election this fall.

“My love for this City and my commitment to our children, our neighborhoods, and the people who reside in them is boundless,” the mayor wrote in a statement released to members of the media this evening.

“Given this, the decision of whether to seek another term as your mayor has been one of the most difficult evaulations I have ever faced. My family has been supportive; my trusted friends valued.”

“After countless hours of deliberation and evaluation, I have decided not to seek re-election as your Mayor. Although every day I still find joy in the work I do and the people I serve, the time has come for a new chapter to be written.”

This doesn’t come as a big surprise. Sources close to Jennings have been saying for some time now that he was deeply torn about whether to run again, and he regularly admitted that he had not yet made up his mind.

Jennings was first elected in 1993, so it has been some time since there was an open race for mayor in Albany, which is rather infamous for electing local leaders with longevity.

Erastus Corning served for more than 40 years, from 1942 to 1983, and died in office. He was succeeded by Tom Whalen, who chose not to seek re-election in 1993 and was succeeded by Jennings after Jennings – then a bomb-throwing maverick Common Council member – defeated the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate and former chairman, Harold Joyce, in a hotly contested primary.

Jennings, a former Albany High School vice principal who is perhaps best known for his year-round town and bear-hugging style (with both men and women), is an ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In fact, he was one of the few Democratic elected officials to support Cuomo’s ill-fated 2002 gubernatorial primary against the party favorite, then-state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

There was some speculation when Cuomo ran in 2010 that Jennings might be tapped to be his running-mate, but the then-AG chose Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy instead. There was also talk that Jennings might join the Cuomo administration, but that never happened either.

With this decision, the fall election season just got a whole lot more interesting in Albany. City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan and 11th Ward Democratic Leader Corey Ellis have already announced their campaigns, which would have set Jennings up in a three-way primary at a time when some observers are starting to talk about the need for new blood in City Hall.

Now that this is an open seat, however, it’s possible more contenders will jump into the race. It seems a little late in the game, since the race will likely be decided in the September primary, given the city’s Democrat enrollment edge. But, then again, petitioning doesn’t begin until next month.

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