Barbara Boxer Retiring At End of Term

Senator Barbara Boxer has announced she will not run again in 2016.

AP (“California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer to Retire“):

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a tenacious liberal whose election to the Senate in 1992 heralded a new era for women at the upper reaches of political power, announced Thursday she will not seek re-election to a new term next year.

A staunch supporter of abortion rights, gun control and environmental protections, Boxer has said she is most proud of the vote that she cast against the war in Iraq.

Boxer’s retirement sets off a free-for-all among California Democrats, who have been ascendant in the state for decades with few offices to aspire to while Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have held a lock on the state’s U.S. Senate seats.

The 74-year-old Boxer made the announcement in an unusual video in which she answered questions posed by her grandson, Zach Rodham. “I am never going to retire. The work is too important. But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016,” Boxer said.

That a 74-year-old has decided that she won’t, at age 76, run for a job whose tenure ends when she’s 84 would seem not the least bit newsworthy in a normal system. Alas, a shocking number of Senators have run for re-election much older than that.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    Alas, a shocking number of Senators have run for re-election much older than that.

    Of the Senators currently serving, 12 are older than Barbara Boxer, and of those 12, seven has been re-elected at the age of 76 or older.

    Not sure if I’d call that a shocking number.

  2. Pinky says:

    James – She’d be 82 at the end of the six-year term.

  3. PJ says:

    A bit of a quick and dirty calculation.

    There have been 1964 US Senators.
    Remove the seven who have unknown or disputed birth years.
    Which leaves 1957 US Senators.

    Of those 1957:

    21 (1.1%) were/would be 84 years or older at the last Congress they served in. (8 of them served in a Congress ending in or after 1980.12 of them died during their last Congress)

    58 (3%) were/would be 80 years or older at the last Congress they served in. (24 of them served in a Congress ending in or after 1980. 22 of them died during their last Congress)

    93 (5%) were/would be 78 years or older at the last Congress they served in. (31 of them served in a Congress ending in or after 1980. 34 of them died during their last Congress)

    Not sure how this would be a shocking number…

  4. PJ says:

    37 (1.9%) were/would be 82 years or older at the last Congress they served in. (16 of them served in a Congress ending in or after 1980.16 of them died during their last Congress)

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Yeah, that’s why I predicted she wouldn’t seek another term a month or so ago. It’s useful to go back and check how many of the senators who would be seeking re-election would be over 80 at the end of their new term. I strongly suspect that Sen. Boxer will not be the last senator who won’t be seeking another term in 2016.

    It’s going to be a hairy primary season.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Thank God. I like Boxer okay but Californians are politics deprived. The presidential is seldom in doubt, and if it were in doubt it would be irrelevant since that’d only happen in a blow-out.

    Now we have a nice, new Senatorial race!

  7. PJ says:

    @PJ:
    @PJ:
    @PJ:

    Some down-voter doesn’t like facts.

    It’s a fact that the number of US Senators who were elected or re-elected when they were at least 76 years old is somewhere between 37 and 93 (and much likely closer to the lower number). Of 1957 US Senators.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Now we have a nice, new Senatorial race!”

    Trust me, after a few months of wall-to-wall campaign ads, you’ll stop saying they are so nice.

  9. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds: Will you be on the ballot?

  10. James Joyner says:

    @PJ: To me, that anyone is still in the Senate, much less being re-elected to the Senate, in their 80s is shocking. Additionally, the vast number of those who have have been in recent years, concentrating the numbers in terms of my own personal experience.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    @James Joyner:

    Well, fortunately, in recent years they haven’t had much to do.

  12. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    To me, that anyone is still in the Senate, much less being re-elected to the Senate, in their 80s is shocking. Additionally, the vast number of those who have have been in recent years, concentrating the numbers in terms of my own personal experience.

    Being re-elected in their 80s? Those are even fewer.

    Currently, five Senators are 80+ (Inhofe, Shelby, Hatch, Grassley, and Feinstein), and of them none has been re-elected in their 80s. Sure, Inhofe turned 80 13 days after he got re-elected last year.

    This isn’t heavy manual labor, a Senator has quite the support staff, and none of the five seems to have any mentally deteriorating conditions (Well, four of them are Republicans, but I’m not going to play Bill Frist…), so I really can’t see an issue with it. They are five in a body of 100.

    If you are concerned about age:

    Stephen Breyer is 76.
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 81.

    Samuel Alito is 64.
    Clarence Thomas is 66.
    Anthony Kennedy is 78.
    Antonin Scalia is 78.

    I doubt any in the second group is going to voluntarily leave the Supreme Court as long as a Democrat is President. So, some of them might get quite a bit older.

    And this is in a body of 9.

    If voters in South Carolina though that Strom Thurmond had gotten a bit too senile and wanted to replace him, then they had a opportunity to do so every sixth year. They obviously liked what they saw and kept re-electing him until he died.

    Not sure what happens if, for example, Scalia gets dementia.

  13. Andre Kenji says:

    @PJ: I do agree with James. Neither the Senate nor the US Supreme Court are nursing homes. The idea of a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices is not a bad idea.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Tony W:
    Californians are interesting, adventurous, occasionally strange people, but not quite interesting, adventurous or strange enough to vote for me. To mangle Groucho: I wouldn’t want to live in any state that would have me for a Senator.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    I’d love to see Kamala Harris run against Gavin Newsom and Eric Garcetti. It would be the best-looking senatorial race ever. The sexual tension at debates would be epic.

  16. Kari Q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Californians elected S.I. “we stole the Panama Canal fair and square” Hiyakawa, so I wouldn’t be too certain you’d have no chance. But I’d love to see Kamala Harris run, myself.

  17. superdestroyer says:

    my guess is that the primary will produce two Democratic Party candidates and that they conventional establishment Democrats will win the election. What is also a certainty that the state with one of the highest percentage of Latinos will not elect a Latino or that a Latino will be one of the two candidates coming out of the primary.

    The Senate primary will be the first good example of what politics in a one party state will look like in the future of the U.S.

  18. PJ says:

    @Andre Kenji: But are there any signs that the current Senate is a nursing home, that any of the five who are 80+ should need to retire?

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Actually it’s looking as if the big four – Kamala Harris,Garcetti, Newsom and Villaraigosa may peacefully negotiate a division of three available jobs: Boxer’s seat, Feinstein’s seat and Jerry Brown’s office. Villaraigosa is Latino, Garcetti is half Latino. Harris is part east Indian and part black. Newsom is white.

    So, actually, the Democrats, who have turned this state around now that we’ve sent the remains of the California GOP out into the Mojave with half a canteen, will quite possibly have a Latino in one of the three top spots.

  20. Tony W says:

    @superdestroyer:

    What is also a certainty that the state with one of the highest percentage of Latinos will not elect a Latino or that a Latino will be one of the two candidates coming out of the primary.

    You never disappoint – was not sure how you were going to inject race into the comment, but you came through again.

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Claiming that Garcetti (Harvard Westlake, Columbia University, Oxford) and whose grandfather was an ethnic Italian living in Mexico has anything in common with the massive number of illegal mexican immigrants in Southern California is laughable. He is establishment, second generation and if you look at his websites, identifies as Jewish, not Mexican.

    Also, out of four that you listed, Villaraigosa is the least likely to win state wide office. He has the poorest performance while in office before, the lowest academic record, and has a very messed up personal life.

  22. superdestroyer says:

    @Tony W:

    How can one discuss politics in the one-party-state of California without discussing race? In a one-party-state, politics is about different ethnic and racial groups along with business special interests fighting over government goodies, special benefits, and set asides. Also, the naming of the likely candidates shows that for all the talk about how a massive influx Latinos is a great thing and will help the economy (diveristy is our strength) that the elites of California do not see Latinos as a rival for their economic and political positions but just see them as servants.

  23. Tony W says:

    @superdestroyer: Well, I’m fairly elite (perhaps ~3%er or so) and I see the Latinos as my neighbors and friends. I’ve even learned some Spanish so I can communicate more easily with my fellow Californians.

    We also have the reprehensible Mr. Issa as a US Congressman from nearby my neck of the woods, so your one-party state idea comes from somewhere pretty dark and moist.

  24. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: Yes, you disgusting little creep, when I voted to elect Dr. Raul Ruiz as my congressman — twice now — it was because I thought of him as my servant.

    What a horrible little mind you have.

    And trust me — this ain’t because I’m incapable of arguing with the force of your logic. It’s because your loathesome assumptions that every American shares your racist filth makes me want to throw up.

    Have a nice day.