U.S. Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that she will retire and not run for re-election at the end of this year, closing her nearly three decades as a prominent African American political leader.
The Washington Post reported that the seat vacated by the 76-year-old Democrat will most likely stay within the same political party. Watson, however, did not endorse a successor, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Watson represents the 33rd District in Southern California, which includes USC and is considered overwhelmingly Democratic, according to CNN. In 2008, 75 percent of the district voted for President Barack Obama during the presidential election.
She is not the first senator to announce her intent to vacate a Congressional seat, as 12 other House Democrats and 17 House Republicans have decided not run for another term, according to the Washington Post.
Watson had been the first African American woman elected to the Los Angles School Board. She also served 10 years on the California State Senate before former President Bill Clinton appointed her to ambassador for Micronesia.
She ran for Congress in 2001 in a special election to fill the seat after the death of Rep. Julian Dixon.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Watson intends to spend more time with her mother, who just turned 100.
An expected candidate for Watson’s seat is California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a source told the Los Angeles Times.
Bass refused to comment, saying only, “Diane Watson has been a great leader for Los Angeles.”