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Sources: Woolsey to announce retirement

  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, talks with Leonard Robinson of the California Environmental Protection Agency about cleaning up Hamilton Field in Novato in her office on Capitol Hill in this 2009 file photo. (JOHN BURGESS/Press Democrat)

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who has represented the North Bay in Congress for nearly two decades, is expected to announce her retirement next Monday at her home in Petaluma.

Woolsey, 73, released a statement Monday saying that she will make an unspecified announcement at her home, joined by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, friends and family.

An aide said Woolsey's announcement will concern “her future plans.”

Sources close to the Petaluma Democrat said Woolsey will announce she is retiring after completing her 10th term in 2012.

In December, Woolsey said she was considering retirement, noting that she will be 75 and will have served 20 years on the Hill by the end of her current term.

Woolsey said then that she would make her decision in June.

She said she was airing her potential retirement well ahead of time to give those vying to succeed her a chance to make their names known to voters.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Marin County political activist Norman Solomon have formed campaign organizations with the intention to run if Woolsey retires.

“Lynn has signaled pretty strongly that she will be announcing this is her last term,” Huffman said Monday.

Huffman declined to make any further comment, saying “we need to wait and let her make her announcement.”

Solomon said he did not know what Woolsey intends to announce. “It's news to me,” he said, regarding Woolsey's plans for next Monday.

Woolsey and Lee are political allies, having previously served as co-chairwomen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Woolsey, a former Petaluma city councilwoman, was first elected to Congress in 1992, the “year of the woman” in American politics.

She is best known for her early opposition to the Iraq war and continued opposition to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Challenged last year by 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 Republicans.

Her compact district, which covers Marin County and most of Sonoma County, appears headed for a dramatic reconfiguration in the 2012 election.

The first draft of new congressional district maps released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission includes a coastal district running from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, but excluding Santa Rosa.

Were she to run next year with those boundaries, Woolsey would have to introduce herself to thousands of voters from Windsor to Crescent City.

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