California Republican George Radanovich said Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to Congress next year but will serve out his eighth term representing a GOP-leaning district.
Democrats hope to make some gains in California next year by targeting congressional districts won by President Barack Obama in 2008. But Radanovich's political turf, the 19th Congressional District in the state's Central Valley, was not part of that effort.
Radanovich, 54, said he needed to attend to pressing family matters. His wife, Ethie, has been fighting ovarian cancer for nearly three years.
"My family needs me, and I intend to be by their side to win this battle," Radanovich said in a statement.
He also said he has recruited a potential replacement in state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, who is serving in his second term. He said Denham has agreed to enter the race.
Radanovich, who lives in Mariposa, described the state lawmaker as someone who understands the region's water needs and is a fiscal conservative who would "stand up to the tax-and-spend crowd."
Denham, who dropped a 2010 bid for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, said Radanovich approached him on Christmas Eve about trying to succeed him.
"It was certainly a Christmas my family and I will never forget," he said.
Denham, 42, served 16 years in the Air Force, on active duty and in the reserves. He said his focus in the Legislature has been on controlling state spending.
In 2008, he easily defeated a recall attempt that was orchestrated by the former leader of the state Senate, Democrat Don Perata, who sought retaliation after Denham refused to cast a deadlock-breaking vote on the state budget.
The 19th Congressional District encompasses all of Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, and includes Yosemite National Park. It also stretches into the Central Valley, including portions of Fresno, Stanislaus and Madera counties.
Voter registration in the district is 44 percent Republican, 37 percent Democratic and 14 percent independent.