Think tank selects California Congresswoman Harman as new leader

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Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) hears testimony from Obama Administration cabinet members during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill April 22, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Shortly after Democrat Jane Harman announced her decision to resign from Congress yesterday to head a think tank in Washington, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn said she will run for the seat. Harman held a press conference today to make the announcement official.

Harman is leaving to serve as president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. She says she wants to do something at the Center that she can't do in Washington, and that's to take larger issues that people disagree about and provide a safe place for them to debate. Harman said it was an opportunity that she couldn't resist.

The Center came to her in December after going through a search committee process, with the offer being finalized this morning. Harman will leave Congress and start at the Wilson Center on Feb. 28.

Harman called her constituents the smartest ones in the country in the best congressional district. She said she had a great deal of regret in leaving them, but that this was the "unequaled next chapter" in her life, the next thing she felt she could do with her time and talent.

She said that she was giving up a lot, but that she was also getting the opportunity to launch a new chapter. She says, "who says women in their '60's are in decline?"

- Kitty Felde, Steve Julian & Mike Roe


A public policy research center says Rep. Jane Harman of California will be its next president and CEO.

Harman told constituents that she planned to resign once selected to oversee the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as president and CEO. The Democratic lawmaker has served eight terms representing a suburban Los Angeles district. She has been a leading voice for Democrats on intelligence and security issues.

The center held a news conference Tuesday to announce Harman's selection. Harman, 65, says she will remain in Congress for several weeks to ensure an orderly transition. Harman is scheduled to start at the Center on Feb. 28. A special election for the seat will likely take place in June, and the Democratic primary winner would be favored to succeed her.

The center brings together policy experts and political leaders to debate foreign and domestic policy issues.

© 2011 The Associated Press.

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