California to have at least 5 open congressional seats in 2012

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

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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