California Poised for Change as Retirement Looms for Incumbents

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 01:55 PM

By John Blosser

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Time is about to wreak a revolution on the political makeup of California's state and federal offices with aging, longtime incumbents nearing the point where they will be retiring, and anxious newcomers, long denied a shot at top lawmaking slots by well-entrenched office-holders, chomping at the bit for their chance to move up.

Bay Area Democratic consultant Jim Ross, noting that a third of the California delegation is over 65 while 20 percent are over 70, told Politico, "You have an aging delegation. You're going to see people retiring and leaving — if not this year, then in the next two or three years."

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, 43, told Politico, "We've had great leadership in Washington and also in Sacramento lately, but look to the next eight, 10 years — it's going to be a generational shift. The Gen X-ers are going to take over in California."

After 40 years in Congress, Rep. George Miller, 69, bowed out this year, with relative newcomer state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, 62, serving since 2008, holding a commanding lead to replace him.

The leader of California's congressional delegation, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader, is 74, with 25 years in the House. Three-term Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is 76, running for another term and looks like a shoo-in after handily taking the primary.

However, Brown is the oldest governor in the United States, limited by law to four terms and, if he wins, by the end of his fourth term he would be 80 years old, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even so, he told the Sacramento Bee, "I’m not going to say it’s the last race, because there’s always some races around."

His Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, is 40, and stressing his comparative youth in TV ads that show him vigorously chopping wood.

"In this race, me versus Jerry Brown, the Republican is 40 years old, a brown guy [he is of Kashmiri descent], a son of immigrants. The Democrat is the old white guy who inherited millions of dollars from his rich, powerful father," he told Politico.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has held office since 1992, is 81 years old and likely considering retirement. Her next election bid would take place in 2018, and Feinstein would be 85 years old, according to The Daily Beast.

John Burton, 81, the state Democratic Party chairman, speaking to Politico of the roadblock to advancement posed by the long-serving California incumbents and those younger candidates itching to run, said, "What are they gonna say? I'm thinking of running? Fine. Call me in four years. I'm sure they're all salivating."

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