Rafu Staff Report

WASHINGTON — Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) announcement that she is retiring has prompted praise from her Democratic colleagues and opened the door for potential candidates from both parties.

“I am never going to retire. The work is too important. But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016,” Boxer — who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and to the Senate in 1992 — said in a video released on Jan. 8.

Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Barbara Boxer

“For the past 22 years, my friend Sen. Barbara Boxer has served the people of California, and America with grace, grit, and determination,” said Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose). “Her passionate work for our environment, marriage equality, public safety, and women’s health issues are exemplary. She had the courage to vote against the Iraq War, the foresight to recognize the danger of the Taliban, and the wisdom to lead the fight to block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Our work together to prevent human trafficking has shown me how she is able to turn her convictions into action. As an educator for over 30 years, I am especially pleased by her establishment of the Excellence in Education Award.

“The best word I can use to describe her time in office is ‘legendary.’ While I will miss her on Capitol Hill, I am glad that she plans to continue her great work outside of Congress. Thank you, my friend, for all you have done for our state and our country.”

“For more than three decades, Sen. Boxer has served our great state — first as a member of the House of Representatives, then as a senator,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside). “Her support of women’s rights, working families, the middle class, and our troops benefited the lives of millions of Californians.

“Although it could never do justice in showing the depth of our gratitude, thank you. You certainly did give a damn.”

“Barbara is a friend and colleague, and her absence will be greatly felt in the halls of Congress,” said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento). “… As the chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, she has proven time and time again that she is a leader committed to fighting climate change, increasing transportation options, protecting wilderness areas and creating a cleaner and healthier environment.

“Barbara has been a true friend and steadfast ally for the Sacramento region. Over the years we worked closely together on our region’s flood protection efforts, including the authorization of the Natomas Levee Improvement Project. Barbara was a wonderful partner on that bill and a number of others that without her never would have made it to the president’s desk.

“With her decision to retire at the end of her term, California is losing a passionate, tireless advocate in Congress. I have enjoyed working with Barbara and wish her and her family nothing but the best for the future.”

Attorney General’s Announcement

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, announced her candidacy for Boxer’s seat on Jan. 13. “I’m excited to share with you that I’m launching my campaign to be a voice for the people of California in the United States Senate — and I need your help to build a grassroots campaign that reaches all across our state,” she said in a statement.

“I want to be a fighter for families feeling the pinch of stagnant wages and diminishing opportunity, for students burdened by predatory lenders and skyrocketing tuition, for our immigrant communities and for our seniors.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris
California Attorney General Kamala Harris

“California has been incredibly well served by the transformational leadership of Sen. Boxer and the continued service of Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein. With your help, I hope to build on their legacies.”

Previously district attorney of San Francisco, Harris was elected attorney general in 2010 and again in 2014. When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation in September, Harris was mentioned as a possible replacement, but she said she wasn’t interested.

The daughter of a Jamaican American father and an Indian American mother, Harris is the state’s first African American and Asian American attorney general, as well as the first female. If elected in 2016, she will be the first African American and the first Asian American woman to represent California in the Senate. (Republican S.I. Hayakawa served from 1977 to 1983.)

“The attorney general’s announcement certainly excites me as an Indian American, and as a Californian,” San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra told NBC News. “To have such an outstanding public servant be the first to represent the community in such a powerful and prestigious position is something we all should be proud of as Americans.”

The field is likely to be crowded. Among Democrats considering a run for the Senate are former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Anaheim, Rep. Eric Swalwell of Dublin, and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, has announced that he is not running and is expected to run for governor.

Possible Republican candidates include Tom Del Becarro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Gatos Hills, both former state GOP chairmen.

If the Democratic vote is split several ways, that could be advantageous for the Republicans under the new system, in which the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party, go on to the general election.

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