Democrat Tony Cardenas retiring from Congress

 November 21, 2023

California congressman Tony Cardenas is leaving Washington after nearly a decade in office. 

The 60-year-old Democrat will not seek re-election in 2024, citing a desire for a career change "where I don’t have to go to Washington, D.C., 32 weeks out of the year.”

The son of Mexican immigrants, Cardenas has represented his Los Angeles-area district since 2013. The 29th district is certain to remain safely in the hands of Democrats.

California Democrat resigns

Cardenas has already endorsed a successor for the district, which covers most of the San Fernando Valley: state assemblywoman Luz Rivas.

"Tony Cárdenas has been a tireless voice for working families, children, and immigrants,” Rivas said in a statement. “He is a true visionary who championed green energy, justice reform, and animal rights long before these issues became popular.”

Throughout his time in Washington, Cardenas has made diversity a major priority. He chaired BOLD PAC, which supports electing Hispanic Democrats to Congress, and was also instrumental in passing legislation to build a Smithsonian Latino Museum in Washington.

President Biden called for the museum to be placed on the National Mall under pressure from Cardenas and the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.

Cardenas told the Los Angeles Times that he was initially motivated to get into politics because of a lack of non-whites in positions of power.

"The truth of the matter is I thought I could do this just for a few years ... I’m just at the age where I have enough energy and experience to maybe do something [different] and have another chapter of a career where I don’t have to go to Washington, D.C., 32 weeks out of the year," he said.

Champion of diversity

As he prepares to leave Congress, Cardenas is being praised by members of his party as a role model for Latinos in politics.

California Senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat, credited Cardenas with seeking office "at a time when Latinos didn’t see ourselves represented in positions of power.”

The Democrats' House leader, Hakeem Jeffries (Ny.), praised Cardenas for increasing the number of Latinos in elected office.

“While Tony is the first Latino to represent the San Fernando Valley, he has made it his mission not to be the last,” Jeffries wrote in a statement. “As a leader within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he’s been instrumental in increasing the number of Latinos serving in Congress to a record level.”

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