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Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to retire after long career

Barbara Boxer's decision to leave Washington sets up California's first open Senate race since she was elected in 1992.

By
Frances Burns
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and her husband, Stewart, at the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 6. Boxer announced Thursday she will not seek a fifth term in 2016. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and her husband, Stewart, at the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 6. Boxer announced Thursday she will not seek a fifth term in 2016. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who has represented California in Congress since 1983, ,announced Thursday she is retiring at the end of her current term.

Boxer, 74, released a video she made with her grandson, who played the part of a TV reporter interviewing her. The senator, known for her love of word play, ended with a short poem.

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The Senate is the place where I've always made my case," she said. "For families, for the planet and the human race. More than 20 years in a job I love, thanks to California and the Lord above. So although I won't be working for my Senate space, and I won't be running in that next tough race, as long as there are issues and challenges and strife, I will never retire because that's the meaning of my life."

When Boxer joined her fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the Senate in 1992, the state became one of the first to be represented by two women. After more than 20 years, Boxer is the body's most senior junior senator.

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Boxer is also one of the most reliably liberal senators.

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Her retirement will give California its first open Senate race since her election. The list of potential candidates includes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

At the moment, the top tier of California politics is a gerontocracy. Feinstein is 81, Gov. Jerry Brown 76 and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi 74.

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Boxer told her grandson she wants to come home to California but said age was not a factor in her decision.

"Some people are old at 40 and some people are young at 80," she said. "As for me, I feel as young as I did when I got elected."

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