California to have at least 5 open congressional seats in 2012

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Republican Congressman Wally Herger of California announced Tuesday that he will retire from the House of Representatives at the end of his 13th term.

A fifth member of California’s congressional delegation has announced plans to retire: Republican Congressman Wally Herger. The growing number of lawmakers who aren’t running for re-election means this November’s election, with its citizen-drawn districts, will have the largest number of open congressional seats in two decades.

Herger's represented Chico in far northern California since 1987. Herger is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, but he maintains a low profile with the press.

His retirement follows on the heels of Congressman Elton Gallegly’s weekend announcement that he’s not running for re-election either. Redistricting would have pitted Gallegly against the head of the Armed Services Committee, fellow Republican Buck McKeon, in a newly redrawn Simi Valley district.

Three veteran Democrats — Lynne Woolsey of Petaluma, Bob Filner of Chula Vista and Dennis Cardoza of Modesto — previously announced that they’re also leaving Capitol Hill.

UC Berkeley political science expert Bruce Cain says this is the largest number of open congressional seats in 20 years — when more than a dozen were up for grabs.

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