Bay Area Rep. Anna Eshoo says she's not running for reelection after over 30 years in Congress

ByZach Fuentes and Tim Johns KGO logo
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Bay Area Rep. Anna Eshoo retiring after 3 decades in Congress
Silicon Valley Rep. Anna Eshoo - who earned notoriety for spearheading cybersecurity, innovation and high-tech legislation - plans to end her three-decade congressional career at the end of her term in 2024.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the first time in two decades, a Silicon Valley congressmember is poised to retire and shake up the South Bay's political landscape -- with many local Democrats reportedly eyeing the seat.

In a video posted to social media, Rep. Anna Eshoo announced plans to end her three-decade congressional career at the end of her term in 2024. Sources said the official announcement is coming in a matter of weeks.

In her decades-long tenure, 66 of her bills have passed, signed by five presidents.

"Bipartisanship can work. Is it tough? Of course, it is. The framers didn't make it easy to create laws in our country," Eshoo said. "But I'm such a firm believer in that."

Something recognized by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi just hours after Eshoo announced her retirement.

"Any subject you can name, healthcare, education, energy, technology, climate, whatever the subject she has been on the forefront," Pelosi said.

Now after years of work representing her district which has included large parts of the Peninsula and South Bay, Eshoo says she feels at peace with retirement plans.

"This job has profound responsibilities. It's 24/7," Eshoo said. "I have commuted across the country every single week, for 31 years so that I could be with my constituents."

Her retirement comes at a time when Congress has seen turmoil including the recent House speaker race and struggles to avoid a government shutdown.

But Eshoo said that's not what influenced her retirement.

"I'm not fleeing the Congress. That's not what my decision is about at all," she said. "I think that it's time for me."

Speculation over who might replace her

Eshoo joins a list of many sitting congress members retiring, marking a shift in many congressional districts across the country.

"I'll be looking at the ways in which candidates try and establish themselves as being new different young, hip, outsiders, which I imagine a lot of these campaigns are going to claim," said Nolan Higdon, a professor of history and communication at CSU East Bay.

Traditionally, opportunities to replace local members of Congress don't come around often.

It's been about 20 years since a South Bay seat was last up for grabs.

"Everyone says let's bring in younger people, new blood, keep it flowing. But in Washington the rules are the longer you're there, the higher you go up the staircase to power," said ABC7 News insider Phil Matier.

As for Eshoo's district, many are rumored to be eyeing her seat including former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, State Senator Josh Becker, Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

Assemblymember Evan Low says he'll consider the possibility of running for Eshoo's seat over the Thanksgiving holiday.

He tells ABC7 News it's important for whoever the new representative is to understand the day-to-day lives of local families.

"To understand the struggles of what it's like not being able to afford a home in the community that we live and represent. What it's like to have the challenges of food insecurity," he said.

State Senator Josh Becker believes that although losing long-serving people like Eshoo can be difficult for the state, having new people replace her also has its benefits.

"I think you look at the caliber of people that we're electing, and they're very high caliber. They've had tremendous experience," he said.

But Eshoo's not putting her name behind anyone yet.

In the next year, she says her focus is on getting bills signed into law, including legislation on artificial intelligence.

After that, she said she looks forward to flexibility.

"My life is filled with "have to's." 'I have to do this, I have to do that.' I have to set up appointments, so I could make sure I can have dinner sometimes with my family," Eshoo said. "So I think that I think stepping out of Congress, it's only a dream to me now. But I look forward to not having as many 'have to's.'"

Voters will choose Eshoo's replacement next fall.

Bay City News Service contributed to this article.

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