Doolittle Officially Announces Retirement

Posted January 10, 2008 at 1:28pm

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) put the speculation to rest Thursday, announcing to a gathering of supporters at a community center in his district that he would retire at the end of his term.

“My wife, Julie, and I have made this decision after much prayer and deliberation,” Doolittle said, according to a statement posted on his Congressional Web site. “It was not my initial intent to retire, and I fully expected and planned to run again right up until very recently. But it distilled upon us that we were ready for a change after spending almost our entire married lives with me in public service. We are at peace with this choice and look forward to starting a new chapter in our lives.”

Both Doolittle and his wife have been under investigation by the Justice Department for their ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Because of that and some bad press Doolittle had received for employing his wife as his fundraiser, the Congressman was seen as an underdog for re-election this year against 2006 opponent Charlie Brown (D).

Doolittle’s 4th district is solid Republican territory. But the Congressman only barely won re-election in 2006 over Brown. Doolittle’s fundraising this cycle had been anemic, and some high-ranking Republicans on Capitol Hill were trying to persuade him to retire, fearing the GOP could not hold the seat if the Congressman ran for re-election.

Former Rep. Doug Ose (R), who retired from the neighboring 3rd district in 2004, is said to be strongly considering running for the now-open 4th district seat, according to sources. Former state Sen. Rico Oller (R), who lost a close race in the 2004 3rd district GOP primary to now-Rep. Dan Lungren, is also said to be poised to enter the race.

Meanwhile, state Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R), who launched an exploratory committee late last year, is also considering running. Former Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes (R) and Iraq War veteran Eric Egland (R) are already in.

— David M. Drucker