LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow surprised everyone Thursday by announcing she will not run again in 2024.

At 24 years old, Stabenow was the first woman to chair the Ingham County Board of Commissioners.

Four years later, in 1978, she was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives.

From that platform, she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor but eventually ended up in the United States Senate, where she has held office for over 20 years.

But now she has decided to hang it up in two years, and the question is why?

“It really is about family,” Stabenow said.

She has a 96-year-old mother and grandchildren, but a lot of politicians say they are leaving to spend more time with the family and there is often a hidden reason behind that rhetoric.

Is there something else going on here?

Stabenow said her decision is not related to health concerns, burnout, a job offer or plans to run for a different position.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, she was raising funds and was planning to run. Stabenow went back and forth on retirement, but finally concluded it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders, which is why she made her announcement two years in advance.

“It is important to give people who would be interested the opportunity to plan for running for the U.S. Senate. It is a lot of work,” Stabenow said.

She is still at the top of her game, as the No. 3 leader in the Senate, and she will be under pressure to leave her job next year.

If Stabenow leaves early, that will give Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the chance to appoint a Democrat to replace her, which gives that person the chance to run for the job as the incumbent.

Many believe that would be the smart political move to make but Stabenow said she won’t do it.

“I am running to the tape. I will retire January 2025,” Stabenow said.

What’s next for Stabenow? She wants to continue to serve, so what about running for vice president? She said no.

Other than perhaps a book, she said she hasn’t thought much about her next assignment.

As for everybody eager to replace her, the line forms to the left. And it will be a long line at that.