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GOP Rep. Elton Gallegly announced today that he won't run for re-election in 2012, clearing the way for a possible congressional bid by state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark.

Gallegly, 67, told Politico in a statement today that he will end his 25-year run in Congress instead of seeking another term. The state's new political maps had left him with the option of running against fellow GOP Rep. Buck McKeon or seeking the newly drawn 26th Congressional District, a competitive Ventura County seat with a Democratic registration edge.

Strickland, who has been widely expected to jump in the 26th Congressional District race if Gallegly bowed out, told The Bee late last year that he had yet to make a final decision on his election plans. His campaign consultant declined to comment on his 2012 plans in an email to The Bee.

"Congressman Gallegly has served our community with distinction and honor. We are grateful for his service and wish him the very best," Strickland wrote in a tweet.

A Strickland congressional run would be welcome news to Senate Democrats in the current 27th Senate District . Under the current maps, Strickland would likely face Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley in what was expected to be one of this year's top state legislative battles. The Senate maps, which have been targeted by a referendum effort, could still change. The state Supreme Court is holding a hearing on Tuesday on the issue.

Read the full Politico story here.


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