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California Rep. Fazio To Retire

November 17, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ California Rep. Vic Fazio, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, announced plans today to retire at the end of his current term, citing personal concerns.

``It is time to put ambition and politics aside,″ Fazio, said in remarks prepared for delivery in Sacramento, Calif. ``I have come to a season in my life when I believe it is time to prioritize what matters most to me: the need to put aside the relentless pace of congressional service so I can give more time to family life.″

The 56-year-old Fazio is serving his second term as chairman of the House Democratic caucus. Barred by caucus rules from running again, he had been mentioned instead as a potential contender for a higher post in the party leadership. There also have been reports that Fazio was in the running to succeed outgoing White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, but aides said the veteran lawmaker has not had any discussions about that job with administration officials.

Fazio’s district, north of Sacramento, was redrawn during reapportionment in 1990 and he suffered two subsequent close calls, winning with barely 50 percent in 1994 in a three-way race.

He won with relative ease in 1996.

Still, his decision to retire is a blow to Democrats seeking to regain the House in 1998. Republicans are likely to turn their attention to his seat as they look for gains in regions where Democrats are retiring.

Fazio has attempted to serve as a bridge in recent years between the liberals in his own caucus and more moderate Democrats. He was among a small group of only 40 of so Democrats who endorsed the so-called ``fast-track″ trade legislation that Clinton tried unsuccessfully through the House last week.

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