US & World

Congresswoman Diane Watson to retire; Assembly Speaker Karen Bass to run

Rep. Diane Watson, D-California, will announce tomorrow that she's not running for re-election to Congress.
Rep. Diane Watson, D-California, will announce tomorrow that she's not running for re-election to Congress.
Kitty Felde

Democrat Diane Watson will announce tomorrow that she's not running for re-election to Congress. The heir apparent in the heavily Democratic district is Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. Both women have long ties to the south Los Angeles community.

That 3,000-mile commute from Washington to L.A. may have finally gotten to the 76-year-old Watson.

The Democratic Congresswoman has served the district since 2001, when she won the seat in a special election to replace the late Congressman Julian Dixon.

Watson is a lifetime resident of the 33rd Congressional district. She was a school teacher, a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board, and represented the area as a state senator.

Before winning the seat in Congress, she served as President Clinton's Ambassador to Micronesia.

Her likely successor is a fellow veteran of the state legislature: Bass.

Bass is termed out in Sacramento.

She won't comment publicly until Watson has made her retirement public, but Bass has already been forming her campaign committee. She made two trips to Washington last month - once, with the Governor and other state lawmakers, to lobby Congress for cash for California; a week later she returned for the State of the Union address.

Bass has long-time roots in the district as well. She created the Community Coalition, a non-profit that organizes neighbors to fight an abundance of liquor stores and other local issues.

Bass won't be the only Democrat in the race.

Felton Newell is a prosecutor in the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and challenged Watson before news of her retirement became known.

He "commends Congresswoman Watson for her years of service."

Of Karen Bass entering the race, he says, "I don’t think we need more of Sacramento in Washington."

Democrat Mervin Evans and three Republicans, James Andion, David Crowley, and Phil Jennerjahn, are also in the race.

The 33rd district is heavily Democratic and a majority-minority community. However, it is no longer a majority African-American community.