Merced Democratic Congressman Dennis Cardoza announced his retirement today, effective Wednesday at midnight. Cardoza told the press that "sensitive family needs" prompted his resignation. Last October, he announced that he did not plan on seeking re-election. His seat in California's 18th Congressional district includes Merced, as well as portions of Modesto, Stockton, Madera and Fresno.
Cardoza told the Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert blog on Monday that partisan gridlock in this election year also helped to prompt his decision.
"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 and his wife have three children, two of whom were adopted in 2000. He is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. He had also served on the House Rules Committee, but left that post after his 2010 re-election.
The Merced Democrat was serving his fifth term in the House. His decision not to purse a sixth term was due in part to new electoral maps adopted as part of the state's redistricting process. Cardoza would have been forced to run for re-election in another district, against another incumbent in 2012.