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Retiring Woolsey endorses Huffman as successor


Retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, endorsed Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael as her successor on Thursday, two days after Huffman scored a big win in the primary election.

Woolsey, who is stepping down after 20 years in office, described Huffman as a “principled progressive and an effective coalition-builder.”

Rep. Lynn Woolsey announces her retirement at her Petaluma home in 2011. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/PD)

“Jared is that rare public servant with both the courage of his convictions and the ability to work constructively to get things done,” Woolsey said in a statement from her office in Washington.

“His victory this fall would allow me to leave office knowing that the North Coast is in capable hands, with a representative that truly reflects our district’s values,” she said.

Huffman, who is termed out of the Assembly this year, finished first with 37.3 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s primary election for a North Coast seat in Congress.

Republican Dan Roberts, a political newcomer, came in second to earn a potential spot in a November runoff with Huffman.

Woolsey’s endorsement amounts to a symbolic passing of the torch to Huffman, who is considered virtually a sure bet to win in November because of the district’s overwhelming Democratic registration. In the primary, almost 75 percent of the votes went to Democrats.

If elected, Huffman would join Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, whose district includes Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Sonoma, as Sonoma County’s representatives in the House of Representatives.

Norman Solomon, a Democratic author and activist from west Marin County, was 1,379 votes behind Roberts with tens of thousands of absentee ballots uncounted in the six-county coastal district stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

Congressional candidate Jared Huffman chats on his phone during his election night party at the Heritage House on the Dominican University campus in San Rafael on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Huffman is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Lynn Woolsey. (IJ photo/Alan Dep)

Woolsey, 74, said she was endorsing Huffman “regardless of the final vote tally.”

Huffman said he had expected an endorsement from Woolsey, whom he described as “a great friend” whose advice he values.

“She’s represented the North Bay with such passion and moral clarity for the past 20 years, leaving very big shoes to fill,” he said.

Huffman, 48, said Woolsey’s endorsement amounts to a call for unity among Democrats heading into the November election in which the party hopes to re-elect President Barack Obama and regain control of the House.

“Democrats need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder this fall,” he said.

Huffman said Solomon called to congratulate him Tuesday night, and both Stacey Lawson and Susan Adams, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, left him similar messages Wednesday.

“That really is a classy move,” Huffman said. “It’s hard to lose an election.”

Solomon’s political consultant, Tom Higgins, said Thursday that with at least 40,000 uncounted ballots in the congressional district and a 1.1 percent gap between them, Solomon still could overtake Roberts and face Huffman in November.

Solomon, well known in liberal Democratic circles, had positioned himself as the ideological heir apparent to Woolsey.

Regarding Woolsey’s endorsement, Solomon said in an email Thursday: “As I’ve said repeatedly in recent months, I want to be elected not anointed.”

Huffman had collected more than 800 endorsements, including nods from Thompson and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Woolsey, in an interview Thursday, said she had pledged from the start not to endorse anyone during the primary campaign.

Of the eight Democratic candidates, she said Huffman, Solomon, Adams and Petaluma Vice Mayor Tiffany Renee had been “wonderful supporters of mine” and it “didn’t seem fair” to side with one of them.

Huffman said he became well-acquainted with Woolsey after winning his seat in 2006.

Huffman said he initially intended to serve three terms in the Assembly and step out of politics.

On a visit to her office four years ago, Woolsey surprised him by noting her retirement would come the year he was termed out, Huffman said.

“I knew what a good legislator he was,” Woolsey recalled.

Huffman said his wife, Susan, immediately embraced the idea of him taking a job 2,300 miles away.

Her response: “You gotta do it,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

15 Responses to “Retiring Woolsey endorses Huffman as successor”

  1. Skippy says:

    What a sexist, hate-filled rant.
    Imagine if I wrote about how we have to get more men into politics; that women were ruining the nation and world; that we should elect only men from now on.
    You would have an aneurism.
    I’d be right, but you would still have an aneurism.
    Glad it’s OK in kai-world to hate, fear and distrust a person just because of their reproductive plumbing.
    Frankly I think you are hilarious, and a great example of how many foolish people think with their crotch rather than their brain.

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  2. Kai says:

    Woolsey should be ashamed of herself for not making sure,
    soonest she announced her retirement , that she will support
    and do ALL she could to make sure we elected a Woman to
    replace her.
    Another male going to DC? – people i am ONLY referring to
    male POLITICIANS – OK? only politicians….
    How can Women can not see this urgency; we must vote/elect
    Women for many years to come – - for as long as we continue
    supporting/having those hundred of meeting rooms in DC full
    of all-males 98% of these meetings = NOTHING WILL CHANGE!!!!
    WOMEN!!!! wake the heck up, gather all the Women you know
    and talk about this urgency, and of course invite, make sure
    your Dad, Sons, husbands, brothers, neighbors, colleagues,
    etc. are there too – - anyone can comprehend this urgency
    once educated about it.
    For centuries!!!! ONLY MALES are calling all the shots; it’s the
    reason why we are in this horrific mess, in all societies and
    the environment – these male politicians are getting us to the
    tipping point Women.. People wake up.
    Sending/electing more males is surely sending us all on this
    chaos to the…. point of no return.
    Sad, hard to believe that Marin!! is/can be so blind….

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  3. Chuck G says:

    When Pigs can fly things will change. It’s not about voting for your party anymore whether it be Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It’s about what that elected sworn in official will do for you and your community, state,or country.

    Sorry to say nothing has changed in Sonoma County, only the same old retread people being voted in year after year as individuals continue to vote for their party only, but will not understand what the real issues are and vote for the best individual who can bring a fresh change, and positive ideas.

    The time is here and now for folks to wake up and make a change, otherwise please don’t comment about the negatives when your vote could have made a difference.

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  4. JDS says:

    Two things are certain with regards to whoever wins this;

    We’re going to get more of the same,and the new rep. will be part of a congressional minority for some time to come.

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  5. John says:

    “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” — Edward R. Murrow

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  6. Not A Chance says:


    You’re no liberal. If anything we’re getting an upgrade with Huffman, he’s a liberal who can put it away for a minute to get something done. Pragmatism is a good thing.

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  7. Graeme Wellington says:

    Please God, if there is a God, save my soul if I have a soul – and don’t let another GD democrat take this seat in the house. Can Sonoma County please cut the BS of just putting more and more Democrats in place making things worse and worse?

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  8. Kim says:

    This is news? All you needed was the headline and you could have saved alot of ink.

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  9. Steveguy says:

    Woolsey is like Wiggens, a ‘representative’ that has lost touch. I guess it’s Huffman’s turn to ‘serve and steal’ until he is senile.

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  10. Camino Alto says:

    I am a die hard liberal. I never voted for Woolsey because she was and is incompetent. Just the same, I will never vote for Huffman because he is incompetent. Besides, he’s no liberal. He’s as much a Republican as Dan Roberts in everything but name. Roberts will get my vote in November because he’s straight about who he is.

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  11. Tim says:

    I don’t understand why people keep voting liberals into office knowing they’ll do nothing good for the majority of the people. People best wake up and stop putting the liberals into office; otherwise, we’ll continue down the path Obama clan are taking us; we’re going to become just like another 3rd world.

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  12. The Oracle says:

    “[Huffman] is both a principled progressive and an effective coalition-builder,” Woolsey emphasizes. Not only an endorsement, but a quote tailer made to use against Solomon. Are those Democratic wagons I see circling? Let’s hope this ends peacefully.

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  13. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I, for one, will miss Woolsey. She has been poor and middleclass and understands our needs. She has done a good job for the people in her district. She has always been approachable to this constituent and listened respectfully.

    A good long retirement is well deserved.

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  14. Over Easy says:

    This is akin to the court jester appointing a new king.

    Here’s to 20 years of misguided, bungled, jaded, ineptitude, we have called our’s.

    Marin and Sonoma deserved better and now we will get it either way.

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  15. Grapevines says:

    So we have one person who did nothing but give long winded speech’s against the war at the end of day, which nobody listened to, endorsing someone who she says is a good replacement for her. That’s comparable to a nobody endorsing another nobody to take their place.

    And like the mindless sheep they are, the majority of the voters here (democrats), will march in lockstep down to the polls and all pull the handle marked Huffman; sending another nobody off to DC to add to the mess already there.

    Where is the common sense here in that these people in DC are not trusted or even liked, and yet they keep being elected?

    Stop and use your minds and ask yourselves, what have they done for us? And then ask yourselves, is this really the smart thing for me to do? When you have answered those questions, then go and elect someone who will work for you and not just do what they are told to do so they can someday collect their retirement on your dime.

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