09/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

State Senate Leader Emil Jones To Retire

llinois Senate President Emil Jones announced this afternoon he will retire early next year, ending a 35-year General Assembly career in which he became one of state government's most powerful and controversial figures.

The South Side Democrat and top political ally of Gov. Blagojevich hopes one of his sons, Emil Jones III, an employee of the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will succeed him. But Jones, 72, did not address that issue in a statement his office released.

"This has been a great privilege to work on behalf of the people of Illinois," Jones said. "I want to thank my leadership team and my colleagues in the Senate who worked with me side-by-side to accomplish many things for the people of Illinois."

Senate president since 2003, Jones mentored Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama when Obama was an Illinois senator.

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