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Boxer Won't Seek Re-Election In 2016

File / AP

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., right, participate in a joint hearing with the Senate subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.

File / AP

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer was first elected to the US Senate in 1992. She will serve out the remainder of her term but won’t run again. In a conference call with reporters, Boxer said she felt like it was the right time to leave.

"I want to go home," she says. "California is so special to me and I want to spend more time working out of California on the issues I love. I’m not retiring. I’m going to be in the Senate for a couple of years."

Boxer says she’s announcing her decision now to give potential candidates for her seat time to campaign. Her decision creates an opening that will likely draw several high-profile candidates. Boxer won’t say specifically who she’d like to fill her seat, only that they be a progressive.

"We desperately need people in the Senate who are going to fight for privacy rights and civil rights and voting rights," she says, "and make sure that the environment is protected and protects our people from climate change and fights for the middle class."

Names of potential candidates are already being floated. Claremont McKenna Government Professor Jack Pitney says the unofficial campaign began the second Boxer announced she wouldn’t be running.

"Formal announcements may wait, but I think the maneuvering has already started," he says. "I wish I had a nickel for every phone call that was going to go out today from democratic politicians to potential supporters and contributors."

Pitney says Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Kamala Harris would be the leading contenders for job.

"The question is where their ambitions really lie," he says. "Do they want to be governor or do they want to be senator? But I think either one of them would be a very credible Senate candidate."

Pitney says Newsom and Harris will probably negotiate who runs for the Senate seat and who waits two years to run for governor.