SAN JOSE, Calif. - For the first time in two decades, a Silicon Valley congressmember is poised to retire and shake up the South Bay's political landscape, with many local Democrats reportedly eyeing the seat.
Rep. Anna Eshoo plans to end her three-decade congressional career at the end of her term in 2024. She posted a video announcing her retirement on Tuesday.
Eshoo, who earned notoriety for spearheading cybersecurity, innovation and high-tech legislation, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 after serving on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for a decade.
"It’s a job that is not for the faint of heart. I’ve commuted across the country every week now for 31 years to do my legislative work in Washington, D.C., but then to come home and be with my constituents. To listen to them, to be with them," Eshoo told KTVU.
Her retirement marks a monumental shift in Silicon Valley politics. Eshoo is a powerhouse politician who rose through the ranks as a senior member earning coveted committee assignments in Washington on health care, energy and commerce. As news spread about Eshoo's decision to call it quits late Monday, speculation circled about who will run for the competitive seat to represent District 16.
The district includes a large swath of Santa Clara County, including parts of San Jose, and San Mateo County.
Candidates rumored for the seat include California Sen. Josh Becker, Assemblymember Evan Low, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Becker said Silicon Valley should take a moment to appreciate Eshoo and her distinguished career before rushing to replace her. He is still weighing his options, sources told San Jose Spotlight. The first-term legislator would have to vacate his seat in Sacramento to make the leap.
Becker said late Monday he has "tremendous respect" for the veteran congressmember.
"She is a combination we've never seen before of warmth, strength and effectiveness," the senator told San Jose Spotlight. "She's so hard working, and with the utmost integrity and love of America and our institutions. Let's take a moment to celebrate her years of service before we rush to find her successor."
Simitian also praised Eshoo's accomplishments. He has not been shy about his intentions to run for Congress.
"We ought to take some time to say thank you to Anna Eshoo for tremendous service throughout the course of her career," Simitian said. "The attention ought to be on Anna and her contributions to the region."
Simitian said a "formal announcement" about his candidacy is coming soon. San Jose Spotlight reported the longtime supervisor had launched a campaign committee to explore a congressional run more than a decade ago and raised about $600,000 as of December.
"I’m not running away from anything. I will have served 16 terms," said Eshoo.
Former Congressman Mike Honda told San Jose Spotlight he heard about Eshoo's planned retirement late Monday. The news caught him by surprise, he said.
"She's been successful at the local and state level as Zoe and myself had been," Honda said. "It was a situation where she wants to figure out if she wants to spend another two years in Congress with the crazy leadership."
Eshoo, 80, is of Assyrian and Armenian heritage. She joined other congressional leaders this month to call on Israel to implement a temporary humanitarian pause in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The pause would minimize harm and enable aid to reach civilians, she said.
"We share Secretary Blinken's view that a humanitarian pause is a 'critical mechanism for protecting civilians while enabling Israel to achieve its objective of defeating Hamas,'" Eshoo and her colleagues said in a statement.
Among other accomplishments, Eshoo has championed efforts to defend consumers, promote clean energy technology and protect the environment.