Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who is the son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (D), will not seek reelection this year, he said Thursday night.

Kennedy has served in Congress since 1995. The congressman's father passed away nearly six months before Kennedy made his decision to step aside.

Kennedy said in a web video posted Thursday night that his life had taken a different direction, which led him to decide to retire.

"My father instilled in me a deep commitment to public service, whether through elected office, like he and his brothers, or nonprofit advocacy, like my aunt Eunice's work with Special Olympics," Kennedy said. "Now, having spent two decades in politics, my life has taken a new direction, and I will not be a candidate for reelection this year."


Should another member of the New England political dynasty not run and win in 2010, Congress will be without a Kennedy for the first time since 1962, when Sen. Kennedy was first elected.

In his most recent, high-profile public statement, Kennedy voiced his frustration that his father's seat was won by Republican Scott Brown, calling his candidacy a "joke."

Kennedy, 42, becomes the 14th Democrat to announce his retirement before this year's midterms. His Rhode Island district, however, is solidly Democratic. 18 Republicans have declared they will retire. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee is fielding one of its "Young Guns" candidates in Rhode Island's first congressional district, state Rep. John Loughlin (R).

Kennedy has long battled substance abuse and mental health problems. He entered rehab in 2009 and before that had attended rehab in 2006 after crashing his Ford Mustang into barrier on Capitol Hill in 2006.

He said that in his life after office he would continue to work on behalf of those suffering from mental illnesses. 

Watch the video of Kennedy's announcement below:

Michael O'Brien contributed to this report.