Contenders already lining up for Woolsey's job

  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, pictured at a hearing on offshore oil and gas exploration in San Francisco in 2009. (PD file/2009)

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 2012.

Woolsey, 73, said she was talking about her future now to give those vying to succeed her — in what would likely be a crowded and expensive race — a 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.”

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