Citing sensitive family needs, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, has tendered his immediate resignation from the House of Representatives. The surprisingly timed departure takes effect at midnight Wednesday.
A veteran San Joaquin Valley politician first elected to the House in 2002, the 53-year-old Cardoza had previously announced he would not run for reelection. While citing the toxic partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, he primarily attributed his speeded-up timing to growing burdens on the home front.
"In light of the fact that nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year, and in light of the fact that (my wife) and I are facing increasing parenting challenges, this seemed the right time to make this move," Cardoza said in an interview Monday.
Cardoza and his wife, Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin, have three children: a biological daughter and two adopted siblings. The adopted children, a brother and sister originally from Kern County, joined the Cardoza household in 2000 after living in foster homes. They are now teenagers.
The timing of Cardoza's resignation means there will be no special election to fill his 18th Congressional District seat, which encompasses parts of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. His office staff will remain, taking care of constituent services but steering clear of political advocacy. Cardoza informed most of his staffers of his resignation plans in an emotional telephone conference call Monday. His departure leaves House Republicans with a 240-190 majority over Democrats, with five House vacancies; by most political assessments, Republicans are favored to retain control of the House following the November elections.
Cardoza had announced last October he would not run for reelection, after the bipartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission carved the San Joaquin Valley into new House districts. The redistricting essentially left Cardoza the choice of either retiring or facing off against his longtime friend and ally, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.
A senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, and a one-time member of the extended House leadership team, Cardoza said some job feelers were extended to him soon after he announced his retirement plans. He said he did not pursue the opportunities at the time. On Monday, he expressed interest in potentially serving on some corporate boards and in investment banking; he played his other career cards close to his chest, though new announcements may be imminent.
"I'm not leaving my service to the Valley," Cardoza said. "I'll just be doing it from a different venue."
PHOTO CREDIT: Rep. Dennis Cardoza. AP Photo/Harry Hamburg