By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, a fixture in Congress for the past 18 years,
said Thursday she is considering retirement after completing
her 10th term in
Woolsey, 73, said she was talking about her future now to give
to succeed her — in what would likely be a crowded and expensive race
chance to make their names known to voters.
State Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he has formed a
federally registered exploratory committee and will
run for the Sonoma-Marin
congressional seat if Woolsey steps down.
State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa
Rosa, said it was premature to declare her intentions
but she is not ruling out a run for Woolsey’s job.
“We are going to have a whole bunch of capable people
running for my seat if
I give it up it,” Woolsey
said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.
with The Press Democrat
editorial board. “I want them to have a chance to get out there and let
people know them.”
Woolsey, a former Petaluma
councilwoman elected to Congress in 1992, noted that at the end of her next
term she will have served 20 years on Capitol Hill and will be 75.
“So the truth is of course I’m reassessing now,” she said, adding that she
has told her staff that she will make a decision “sometime in early June.”
If she were to retire, Woolsey, who handily won re-election in November,
said: “My satisfaction is that I know it is my choice.”
Huffman, 46, who will be termed out of the Assembly in 2012, said other
Democrats are “out there jockeying for a run” and he wanted to be the first to
make his plans public.
“I’m not going to be coy with people,” said Huffman, whose district is
encompassed by Woolsey’s. “I think people are entitled to know my intentions.”
Anticipating stiff competition and a $500,000 cost to compete in the 2012
primary, Huffman said he wants potential backers to
know he is running “before
they commit to another candidate.”
If Woolsey seeks re-election in two years, Huffman said he will “absolutely
Evans, 55, who served three terms in the Assembly and won the
Senate seat in November, is widely rumored to be eying
“It’s a little premature,” said Evans, a former Santa Rosa councilwoman and planning
commissioner. “The ink isn’t even dry on my certificate of election.”
Evans in November won the Senate seat held by Pat Wiggins,
also a former Santa Rosa councilwoman.
A wide open race for Woolsey’s 6th Congressional District seat, representing
Marin and much of central Sonoma
County, would likely
attract “a pretty crowded field,” Evans said.
Shirlee Zane, a first-term Sonoma
County supervisor, and
Petaluma Mayor Pam Torliatt, who lost a race for south
county supervisor in
November, also are considered potential contenders
for Woolsey’s job. Torliatt
and Zane could not immediately be reached for comment
Woolsey, who previously owned a Petaluma
employment agency, began her political career on the
Petaluma council in 1984. She catapulted to
Congress in 1992, the “year of the woman” in American politics, winning the
seat held by Barbara Boxer for 10 years.
Democrats Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were elected California senators that year, as well.
Woolsey, a former welfare mother, is best known for
her early opposition to
the Iraq war and continued
oppostion to the conflict in Afghanistan.
She is co-chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus.
In the health care debate, she was a strong advocate
of a government-funded
insurance plan, although she did vote for President
Barack Obama’s health care
bill, which did not include the so-called public option.
Facing an election challenge this year from Republican
Jim Judd, a Rohnert Park businessman,
Woolsey won her 10th term with 66 percent of the vote in a district where
Democrats hold a more than 2-to-1 voter registration advantage over
In October, Woolsey said she had no plans to retire.
“I’ve got the health,
the energy and the desire,” she said.
But as she coasted to victory on election night, Woolsey
Democrats face “two really hard years in the House” under a Republican majority.
“It’s going to be hard years for our progressives,” she said.