SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the first time since the George H. W. Bush administration, California will have an open senate seat.
Incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, announced Thursday morning in a YouTube video featuring her grandson, she will not seek a fifth term in 2016. The former Marin County supervisor has served in the senate since the early 90's and her announcement now sets off a new era in Golden State politics.
There are no surprises here. Boxer was not asking for any campaign contributions, which to many seemed a little odd. The press was constantly asking her "if and when" she would announce that she was running for re-election and now the senator has put the matter to rest, in a way we have never before.
The announcement was previously recorded. Noticeably absent was the press. Instead, Boxer's grandson asked the scripted questions from her living room.
"I have to make sure this senate seat stays progressive, that is so critical, and I want to help my Democratic candidate for president make history, but you know what? I want is to come home," Boxer said.
Thursday morning, the senator called those closest to her including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who was on her way to a press conference and missed talking to her. She was nearly in tears.
"It's funny, she called me said she wanted to talk to me personally. I thought maybe she wanted to have dinner tonight or something. Oh my. Well, her decision is an important one for her and her family, it's all personal and individual," House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said.
She also phoned the chairman of the California Democratic Party, John Burton. Boxer was one of Burton's aides when he ran for congress in the mid 70s. He said, "She quit her job, came to work for me, ran my Marin County campaign."
Burton never forgot that. When Boxer decided to run herself, she asked for his blessing. He said, "She called me up and said, 'JLB, I'm going to run for congress' and I think I said, 'Why?' Ha, ha."
The well-connected Burton was instrumental in her victory. As a congresswoman she was seen as sharp and aggressive.
Longtime political consultant Don Solem remembers how she became known for exposing wasteful military spending. He recalls her saying, "'My name is Boxer. I'm a Boxer, I'll fight for you.' And she had believability about that in an increasing age of cynicism."
In 1992, against many odds, Boxer won a seat in the senate along with Dianne Feinstein.
"We went from two to nine women in the senate very rapidly and now we're 20 and growing," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said.
Boxer had many loyal supporters for being an arduous defender of the environment and for respecting the men and women in uniform.
Adding to Thursday's unusual announcement, Boxer ended the interview with a rhyme. She said, "As long as there are issues and challenges and strife, I will never retire because that's the meaning of my life."
Just about everyone we interviewed mentioned how Boxer has so many loyal supporters because she was the kind of person who meant what she said and said what she meant. The consensus is that Boxer being Boxer she will be working hard on something else.
Her slogan in 1982 when she ran for Congress was "Barbara Boxer gives a damn" and we'll leave it at that.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement saying, "Senator Boxer has been a forceful advocate for the people of California. She's brought verve and imagination to the senate. There's still so much to do, and I look forward to working closely with her."