United States Congressman Wally Herger (R- CA 02) announced this morning that he will not seek another term in the House of Representatives. The conservative Congressman’s decision will bring to a close a distinguished public service career that began 35 years ago on a local school board, took Herger from the Capitol in Sacramento to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and spanned the terms of seven U.S. Presidents.
“I have been blessed with the privilege of serving my community, district, state and country for 35 years and being part of some of the most important events in our nation’s history,” said Herger. “That privilege came with many sacrifices, the foremost of which was all the time spent away from my family and my home here in Northern California. I want to focus on my family and enjoy spending time with my grandchildren before they grow up.”
Representative Herger was born in Sutter County in 1945. He was raised on a cattle ranch in the small community of Rio Oso. Growing up, he worked on his family's ranch, and later ran the family's small business, Herger Gas Company.
As a rancher and small businessman, Wally took his experiences to Sacramento and Washington, where he fought the negative impact of high taxes, overregulation, and big government . He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1980 and to the United States House of Representatives in 1986.
A longtime member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the current Chairman of the Subcomittee on Health and a leading opponent of Obamacare, Herger successfully sponsored H.R. 674 last year to repeal the 3% withholding tax, which required government agencies at all levels to withhold 3% of their payments to businesses for goods and services. There has been broadly expressed concern among small businesses that this tax could wipe out their already slim profit margins and make it harder to create jobs.
Among the many other highlights of Herger’s career include playing a leading role in the reauthorization and expansion of the landmark 1996 welfare reform law, which broke the cycle of generational welfare for hundreds of thousands of families. In an effort to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in federal welfare programs, Congressman Herger championed the "Criminal Welfare Prevention Act," which was enacted in 1996. This hugely successful provision, designed to stop the fraudulent payment of Social Security benefits to incarcerated individuals, has saved billions of taxpayer dollars.
Throughout his career Herger has been a strong proponent of better balance in federal environmental laws and policies and a critic of laws and regulations that needlessly harm farmers and small business owners, particularly the Endangered Species Act. He has been a vocal and active supporter of efforts to enhance and improve flood control and water storage infrastructure to meet the public health and safety needs of growing communities in Northern California. Herger has also worked to improve forest management to protect communities from catastrophic wildfire and provide local economic development opportunities. He championed several pieces of common sense forest health legislation including the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act of 1998 and the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act of 2000.
“My most important concern when making the decision to retire from Congress was that the North State continue to be represented by a conservative who fully understands, and appreciates, our agricultural and natural resources-based economy and who has the proven ability to represent such a vast and unique area. That’s why I asked local farmer and State Senator Doug LaMalfa to consider running and am happy that he has agreed,” said Herger. "Doug has my endorsement and full support".
Wally Herger is married to Pamela, and they reside in Chico. They are the parents of nine children and have eleven grandchildren.
I'm not surprised that Rep. Herger is retiring and leaving an opening for Sen. LaMalfa; my only question was when it would happen. I don't expect the Republicans currently running for Herger's seat to back out; in fact we could have a crowded field to choose from in the primary. I heard speculation today that former Sen. Sam Aanestad would join the race. He and LaMalfa were hardly joined at the hip when they were both legislators.
No matter who runs, though, I would have to think LaMalfa would be the odds-on favorite, based on money and popularity. And if he wins, he'll be our congressman for the next 20 years at least.
UPDATE: First salvo from Pete Stiglich on Facebook: "Wonder why Doug personally told me he would fulfill his promise to the people and complete his State Senate term and would never consider running for Congress until 2014 when his term was up?" As Rick Santorum said, game on.