By Christopher Cadelago and Laurel Rosenhall
Bee Capitol Bureau
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said Monday that he will retire after serving 40 years in Congress.
The announcement by the liberal stalwart has set off a scramble of Bay Area politicians seeking to replace him. Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord told The Bee he expected to run for the 11th Congressional District.
"I'm playing phone tag with him right now. George is a really good friend," DeSaulnier said. "I wish him well and I would love to replace him in Congress. "It was always my intention to run."
Click here for a map showing DeSaulnier's 7th Senate District and Miller's 11th Congressional District.
A DeSaulnier candidacy could be a big boost for Sen. Kevin de Leon, who was expected to challenge him to replace Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg as Senate leader this year.
In a statement, Miller, one of the few remaining lawmakers elected in the Watergate era, said he was grateful to have chaired three committees over the last four decades and authored major laws affecting education, labor and health policy, and the protection of natural resources.
"This is a great institution and I cannot thank my family and my constituents enough for having given me the honor and privilege of representing my district in Congress these past 40 years," Miller said. "I have tried to repay them for their confidence by working hard every day to make our country a better place. I'm proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country, especially passage of national health care reform. Now, I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me. What a wonderful experience this has been."
PHOTO: Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Dec. 12, 2006 file photo. Associated Press/Dennis Cook