Longtime Congressman Jerry Lewis has announced he will retire after 46 years in office. He has represented San Bernardino and Riverside counties in Congress for 33.
Lewis (R-Redlands) is the longest serving Republican member of Congress from California in history, and the first member from the state to be Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Lewis, Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement:
“I will not seek re-election to the Congress in 2012. After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life. We are deeply grateful to so many who have provided their support over the years. I have worked hard to justify that support. Thank you all and may God continue to bless America.”
The announcement is no surprise to many who have long speculated the congressman would retire. Lewis' decision follows major district changes. Lewis' 41st district was carved up and split by The California Citizens Redistricting Commission. A piece of the oroginal is now in the newly drawn 31st, the other in the eighth district.
His departure leaves the 31st district without a clear frontrunner. The new district cut into Congressman Joe Baca's former district creating a possible showdown for two established politicians.
But in September, Baca (D-Rialto) announced he would be running for the new 35th district against Gloria Negrete-McLeod (D-Montclair).
Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar has expressed interest in running for the seat though he has yet to formally announce his candidacy. Redlands resident Renea Wickman and businessman Russ Warner have thrown their hats into the ring.