Rep. Sam Farr announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his current term, bringing to a close more than two decades in Congress and creating an enticing opportunity for current or former state lawmakers in the Central Coast’s 20th Congressional District.
Farr, 74, said he decided to retire because he has spent more than half his life in elected office and because his wife, Shary, wanted him home more.
“It’s a tough decision, but very exhilarating, because it opens up all kinds of opportunities,” Farr said.
The 20th overlaps the districts of state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, and Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, who is termed out and has been planning to run for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in 2016. Alejo also has been raising money for a possible state Senate candidacy in 2018.
On Thursday, Alejo said he is “definitely interested” in running to succeed Farr. Alejo said he plans to make a decision in a few weeks.
Other names in the mix of possible Farr successors include Anna Caballero, a former Democratic assemblywoman who recently said she was stepping down as Gov. Jerry Brown’s business, consumer services and housing secretary, and Monterey County prosecutor Jimmy Panetta, the son of Central Coast political icon Leon Panetta. Republican Casey Lucius announced her candidacy Thursday.
Democrats hold a 30-point registration advantage in the 20th, which includes all of Monterey and San Benito counties as well as portions of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. Farr cruised to re-election last November by 50 percentage points.
Farr, the son of a state lawmaker and a former legislative staffer himself, spent a dozen years in the Assembly. He won a special election to replace Panetta after President-elect Bill Clinton tapped Panetta to be his budget director.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.