George Radanovich, a Mariposa Republican who is in his eighth term in Congress, announced Tuesday that will not seek re-election next year.
Radanovich, 54, said in a news release that he is stepping down from the 19th Congressional District seat to be with his wife, Ethie, as she continues to battle ovarian cancer.
“My family needs me, and I intend to be by their side to win this battle,” he said.
As Radanovich steps down, he is endorsing state Sen. Jeff Denham of Atwater as his replacement. The statement noted that Radanovich’s congressional district and Denham’s senate district share more than 100,000 constituents.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
But Denham isn’t the only Republican seeking to replace Radanovich. For months, former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson has been exploring a run against Radanovich. On Tuesday he made if official.
“The campaign started this morning at 8:30 when I woke up and heard on the radio that George was going to retire,” Patterson said.
Until Radanovich’s announcement, Patterson said he remained undecided on a challenge because of Ethie Radanovich’s cancer battle.
“I did not desire to have a political fight with a friend during a time when his wife was ill,” Patterson said. “That was heavily weighing on my decision whether I was going to do this or not.”
Patterson and Denham, however, may not be the only ones who seek the seat. For one, Fresno City Council Member Larry Westerlund has been calling influential Republicans about a potential run.
11:00 a.m.: As expected, Rep. George Radanovich this morning announced he will step down at the end of his current term, citing his wife's ongoing battle with ovarian cancer.
Radanovich, 54, was likely to face a primary challenge from former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson at the same time his wife, Ethie, was ill from cancer. Radanovich and his wife have one son, King.
In his statement, Radanovich said: “During the past couple of months, Ethie and I have had deep and often emotional conversations giving thanks for our many blessings and setting our priorities as a couple and as parents. It was during these sessions that it became clear to me that the time has come for me to place my family first and my public service career second.
“As many already know, Ethie has been valiantly fighting ovarian cancer for nearly three years. My family needs me, and I intend to be by their side to win this battle."
In the statement, Radanovich said he is backing state Sen. Jeff Denham to replace him, noting that about 100,000 people are in both Denham's 12th Senate District and Radanovich's 19th Congressional District.
9:47 a.m.: Rep. George Radanovich is expected to announce today that he will step down at the end of his current term, sources say.
Radanovich, 54, was likely to face a primary challenge from former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson at the same time his wife, Ethie, is battling ovarian cancer.
Radanovich is expected to endorse state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater, as his replacement, Republican sources say. It would mark the second political shift in a month for Denham. Earlier this month, Denham announced he would end his campaign for lieutenant governor and seek the 25th Assembly District seat now held by Republican Tom Berryhill.
Radanovich, a Mariposa Republican, was first elected in 1994, when he unseated Democratic incumbent Rick Lehman. Radanovich has held his seat without serious challenge ever since.
Though Patterson has made no official campaign announcement, Republican and Democratic circles alike were abuzz with anticipation that he would declare his candidacy in early January.
A primary race between Radanovich and Patterson would have instantly become one of the most closely watched in California, if not the nation. It would likely have become expensive, forcing campaign contributors to choose sides or hedge their bets.
Radanovich has never been a dynamic fund-raiser when compared to some of his congressional colleagues. He had $185,851 in his campaign treasury as of Sept. 30. By contrast, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, has more than $1 million socked away.
The GOP primary almost certainly will select the next congressman from the 19th Congressional District. Republicans enjoy a commanding 44%-37% voter registration advantage in the district, which sweeps through all or part of Fresno, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties.