Rep. Henry Waxman said today that he has run his last campaign. “At the end of this year, I would have been in Congress for 40 years,” he told Richard Simon of the LA Times. “If there is a time for me to move on to another chapter in my life, I think this is the time to do it." This throws open an attractive congressional seat based more or less on the Westside of Los Angeles. The author Marianne Williamson had already said she is running as an independent in the race. From the Times story:
During a congressional career that began when Gerald R. Ford was president, Waxman became one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific and savvy legislators, focusing on issues related to healthcare and the environment. He played a central role — sometimes over opposition within his own party — in passing laws that dramatically cut air pollution, helped reduce smoking, expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor, reduced pesticides in food, made generic drugs more widely available, helped AIDS patients, promoted orphan drugs and improved federal regulation of nursing homes.
Among his legislative victories was the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which he helped write and push through the House. Passage of the law fulfilled “one of my lifelong dreams” by guaranteeing access to healthcare coverage for Americans, he said.
Often assailed by Republicans for his partisanship, Waxman was equally lauded by Democrats for his skill at finding legislative compromises that pushed a host of landmark bills into law. Bald, mustachioed and 5-foot-5, he was also a tough political infighter who did not hesitate to push aside rivals who stood in the way of what he considered important goals. The walls of his Capitol Hill office are covered with framed copies of bills he authored and pens used by Democratic and Republican presidents to sign into law numerous measures, any one of which might have been considered a capstone by other lawmakers.
Waxman’s departure will significantly weaken California’s clout on Capitol Hill, where seniority still matters. He is the House's sixth most senior member and the fourth veteran California congressman to head for the exits this year. Along with [George] Miller he was the last of the huge class of Democrats elected in the post-Watergate balloting of 1974 who have served continuously still serving in the House.
From Politico's story:
Waxman’s retirement is the latest blow to House Democrats, who’ve endured a string of high-profile retirement announcements in recent weeks. Waxman’s seat will likely remain in Democratic control, but taken all together, the departures suggest that party veterans don’t believe their party will take back the House in the fall.
Waxman himself insists his retirement has nothing to do with whether Democrats can recapture the House. He is confident he would have won a 21st term if he ran.
“I don’t accept the idea that Democrats won’t get the House back,” Waxman said. “I think that the Republicans have nothing to offer. They’re against everything. They’re against everything Obama wanted. They have no alternatives on health care policy. They have nothing to say, they have nothing to offer.”
“I just think it’s time to move on,” Waxman added.