By TRACIE CONE, Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Democratic Congressman Dennis Cardoza, whose growing dislike for Washington politics was a factor in his decision not to seek re-election, announced Tuesday that he won't even finish out his term.
The representative serving Modesto, Stockton and Merced cited problems with his teenage children as the reason for stepping down as of midnight on Wednesday, and said the lack of pressing work during an election season made the timing right.
During his tenure in Congress, Cardoza helped launch the University of California's newest campus at Merced, secured funding for expansion of the Port of Stockton, fought for foreclosure relief for homeowners, and worked on the myriad of water-access problems facing farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Before being elected to Congress he served in the California Assembly and on the Atwater City Council.
"I look back with great pride on what we have accomplished together," Cardoza said in a written statement to his supporters.
The 53-year-old has served in Congress since 2002. He was part of a core group of fiscally conservative Democrats who called themselves Blue Dogs, including his neighbor to the south, Jim Costa.
"Dennis has always brought candor and dedication to finding real solutions that will be sorely missed in Congress," Costa said.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called Cardoza a "valued member" of the caucus.
"As a leader in the Blue Dog Caucus and a powerful moderate, Congressman Cardoza has been a consensus builder. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of fiscal responsibility and his efforts were essential to the Democratic efforts to make pay-as-you-go budget rules the rule of the House and the law of the land."
Cardoza had long been soured on Washington politics and told The Associated Press last October that he wouldn't seek re-election because he wasn't enjoying it anymore.
"The constant focus on 'screamers' and the 'horse race' of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy," Cardoza said. "This, in turn, is fueling the increasingly harsh tone in American politics."
Cardoza lives with his wife and three children in Maryland and apparently will remain there. The law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips immediately announced that Cardoza will be the managing director of the government affairs and public policy areas of the practice.
Cardoza told McClatchy newspapers that he and his wife are facing parenting challenges, though he was vague about what those problems are. The couple has three children, two of them adopted. Working in the D.C. area will mean he no longer has to commute cross-country to the district.
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