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Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, announced his retirement Tuesday, ending more than three decades of representing the Sacramento Valley in Congress and the state Legislature.

The 66-year-old staunch conservative said he was prepared to be a homebody after years of traveling.

"We want to spend more time with the grandkids." Herger said in a telephone interview. "We just think it's time to begin spending more time with our family."

Herger and his wife have 11 grandchildren, and a 12th is on the way.

Herger's retirement after 13, mostly low-key terms in the House sets the stage for a congressional run by state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, among others. LaMalfa starts as a presumptively strong candidate in the safely Republican and newly renumbered 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Yuba City to the Oregon border.

While acknowledging that "I'm sure there will be a number of candidates," Herger said LaMalfa "has my endorsement and full support," and LaMalfa's upcoming campaign will be run by Herger's own consultant, Dave Gilliard.

"We're moving forward with the campaign," LaMalfa said by telephone Tuesday. "We're already in pretty good shape with the (district's) constituents already knowing me."

A native of tiny Rio Oso in Sutter County, where he still owns a house and ranchland, Herger first won election to a school board position before winning a state Assembly seat in 1980. In 1986, he won election to a House seat that he has held ever since; largely, with relative ease.

In 2010, Herger beat his Democratic opponent by a comfortable 57-43 percent margin.

"It's the end of an era," said former Rep. John Doolittle, a Rocklin Republican who first met Herger three decades ago. "Wally's been running for office every other year since 1980, and it's wearing, year after year, to do that. I think his life is about to get much better."



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