Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach), Orange County's ranking member of Congress and a senior member of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, told supporters Sunday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh consecutive term this year.
Badham, 58, said he intends to take a long vacation with his wife, Ann, and enjoy private life for the first time since he entered public life 27 years ago as a state assemblyman. He made the announcement to about 200 supporters attending a cocktail reception at his Newport Beach home.
Badham's sudden departure from the 1988 race leaves the contest for the 40th congressional district wide open.
"This is a great Christmas present the congressman has given me," said Nathan Rosenberg, 35, a Newport Beach business executive who challenged Badham in the 1986 election.
Dave Baker, 34, an Irvine city councilman for four years, said he also is interested in the seat and recently had begun testing the political waters for support.
Another politician mentioned as a possible contender for the race is state Sen. Marian Berguson (R-Newport Beach).