Karen Bass to run for Diane Watson’s seat

State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass announced Wednesday she will run for the California House seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Diane Watson.

“I am so proud to announce I’m going to throw my hat into the ring,” Bass told a crowd outside her Wilshire-area office, adding that she would have “very big shoes to fill.”

Watson, who is retiring at the end of her term and will not seek re-election, enthusiastically gave her support to the 56-year-old Democrat at the announcement meeting today.

“I 100 percent — maybe 300 percent — endorse Karen Bass,” Watson told the Los Angeles Times.

Bass is running for election in California’s 33rd District, which is considered overwhelmingly Democratic and one of the most diverse in the state.

It is important for the candidates to be able to build broad coalitions in a district that has long been represented by African-Americans, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Bass is considered a strong favorite for the seat, with backing from Watson and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“Karen’s abundant strengths as a public servant have always been her willingness and desire to listen carefully to the people she serves, coupled with her ability to act swiftly, forcefully and sensitively to meet the needs (of) her diverse constituents,” Ridley-Thomas told Fox.

Bass has held the position as state assembly speaker since 2004, but cannot seek re-election in the assembly when she steps down March 1. She is the first African-American woman to serve as state assembly speaker.

Five other political unknowns have begun the formal process to run for the House seat, according to the Los Angeles Times. The filing period closes March 12.