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Henry Waxman Announces Retirement (Updated) (Video)

Updated 1:20 p.m. | Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., announced Thursday that he will not seek a 21st term in his Los Angeles-based House seat.  

In his statement, Waxman said it was simply his time to go. “It’s time for someone else to have the chance to make his or her mark, ideally someone who is young enough to make the long-term commitment that’s required for real legislative success,” he said. “I still feel youthful and energetic, but I recognize if I want to experience a life outside of Congress, I need to start soon.”  

Waxman is now the 17th member of the House and 7th Democrat to announce retirement this cycle. He and fellow California Democratic Rep. George Miller, who is also retiring this year, were the last remaining of the Watergate class of 1974 serving their 20th terms in the House. (One other member of the class of 1974 would remain in the House, Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., but he spent a couple of decades out of Congress in the interim).

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Waxman’s 33rd District is a heavily Democratic seat.In 2012, President Barack Obama won here in by a 24-point margin.  

But with the state’s top-two primary system, where the top-two vote recipients advance to the general, Democratic strategists are worried about the possibility that two Republicans advance to the general election. A similar situation took place in 2012 in the nearby 31st District, a top pickup opportunity for Democrats.  

“There’s a real possibility that if there are two Republicans and eight or nine Democrats, it’s not impossible to have a similar situation like the 31st,” said Democratic strategist Achim Bergmann.  

Democratic strategists also say there is a laundry list of Democrats who could run here, many with the ability to self-fund.  

Last cycle, independent businessman Bill Bloomfield spent millions of his own money and held Waxman to just an 8-point win.  

Early names Democratic operatives mentioned include:

  • State Sen. Ted Lieu, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves.
  • LA City Council member Paul Koretz, who previously served in the state Assembly and on the West Hollywood City Council.
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
  • State Sen. Fran Pavley.
  • Former state Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, who lost her seat in 2012 in a contentious Democratic primary. The race ended up breaking up the top Democratic consulting firm Mac Crounse.
  • Former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel could also run here. A former DreamWorks executive, Greuel has ties to the wealthy and powerful entertainment industry. She recently lost a bid for mayor of L.A.
  • California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Based in Los Angeles County, Waxman’s district includes the wealthy towns of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, plus the beach towns in south L.A., meaning some famous names could also announce bids for the seat.  

Candidates have until March 7 to file the necessary paperwork to run. The top-two primary will take place June 3.  

To see a full list of retirements this cycle, check out CQ Roll Call’s Casualty List .

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