Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Montgomery) said Thursday night that she plans to retire when her term ends next year, ending a career in the Maryland legislature that began in 1978.

Forehand’s decision did not come as a surprise. Two other Montgomery County Democrats have already announced plans to seek her Senate seat this year in what is expected to be a highly spirited primary: Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons and former delegate Cheryl Kagan.

But Forehand said in a brief interview that her decision to forgo another re-election bid in District 17 was not easy.

“I’m going to retire at the end of my term,” she said. “I thought I should tell people now that those are my plans.”

Forehand served in the House of Delegates between 1978 and 1994 and has been a member of the Senate since 1995. Her district includes Rockville and Gaithersburg.

(Jennie M. Forehand)

Forehand narrowly survived a Democratic primary challenge from Kagan in 2010.

This year’s Democratic primary is scheduled for June. Forehand’s term expires in January 2015.