Will retirement of veteran members of Congress hurt California?

Jerry Lewis (R) shakes hands with Ronald Reagan (L)
Jerry Lewis (R) shakes hands with Ronald Reagan (L)

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Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis’ announcement that he’s not running for re-election means that at least six veteran California lawmakers won’t return to Congress next year. The change could mean a loss of clout for California on Capitol Hill.

Jerry Lewis served in Congress for 33 years. If you add up the combined terms of the five other retiring members of the California delegation, that’s another hundred years of public service. Years on the Hill translate to seniority, and that means plum committee assignments and leadership positions.

Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs says that "losing Jerry and a number of folks can be good in some respects and definitely bad in others."

Bono Mack says the jury’s still out on whether shaking up the status quo will hurt California. "I think the people who organized and felt so strongly in both the open primary system and redistricting being done by the independent commission, should feel that these are the fruits of their labor."

Bono Mack says other people in states may vote out incumbents and usher in a new crop of freshmen who would also start at the bottom of the seniority list.

Republican Congressman Gary Miller has already announced he’ll run in Jerry Lewis’ Inland district. That means Miller will avoid a tough fight in a newly redrawn district that would have pitted him against GOP Congressman Ed Royce.

Correction: This story originally claimed Jerry Lewis had served for 46 years. He actually served 33 years.