Rep. Xavier Becerra will not run for the open U.S. Senate seat in California, ending months of speculation.
The longtime southern California congressman was on the short list of possible candidates set to compete for Senator Barbara Boxer's senate position, which she has occupied for more than 22 years. Becerra's decision not to run likely leaves the fight for the seat to a likely two-person race between state Attorney General Kamala Harris and state Representative Loretta Sanchez.
"My decision came down to this: ‘Where can I make the biggest difference for hardworking people like my parents?’" Becerra, 57, said in a statement announcing he will run for congressional re-election for his district.
Becerra, a member of congress for 23 years, is in a position to one day become House Minority Leader. He is currently the chairman of the House Democratic Conference and, as the Sacramento Bee points out, he is fourth in line in the Democratic leadership hierarchy behind current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Rep. James Clyburn – all of whom are ages 75, 76, and 75 respectively.
"As Chairman of the House Democrats and lead Democrat on the Social Security committee, I am best positioned in the House of Representatives to stand up and get things done now," Becerra said in the statement. "I’ve got much more work to do, and I’m in a very strong place to lead. I’m ready to move forward in the House of Representatives."
Becerra represents the 34th Congressional district in Los Angeles. In a May poll asking voters who they would back for Boxer’s Senate seat, he came out third.
The Field poll found that 58 percent of voters did not have a favorite candidate ahead of the primary election next June. The two frontrunners were Harris, with 22 percent, and Sanchez, with 8 percent – but Sanchez entered the race only a week before the poll was conducted.
For many in California, Sanchez represented a chance to make history. More than one out of four U.S. Hispanics live in California, and they make up nearly 40 percent of the state’s population – nevertheless there has never been a Latino U.S. Senator from the state.